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The real Rodriguez

 

 

Post Retirement– Rodriguez way, came after the heart-wrenching story of  Dorabjee appeared. Rodriguez story was meant as a change, as a lighthearted account of the pligh t of retired persons homebound during day and at the mercy of unsolicited tele-vendors and door-to door sellers. I admit it was a bit overdone in certain parts and did not exactly turnout the way I loved to see. I was slightly surprised to find it showcased. But, I have learnt to accept things as they come my way, without reserve.

I wish to say a few words about Willy, not because he needs anyone to defend him, but to correct the impression, one may have gained, of his being a provider of rib- ticklers and teller of dirty stories; and nothing else. He did have his pains and aches but preferred not to wear his heart on his sleeve.

Willy Rodriguez endured more than a fair share of pain, sorrow and grief in his life. His initial years in Bombay, to say the least, were wretched. Uneducated, untended, friendless and poor, he learnt to survive at the lowest stratum of the heartless big city. He eked out a minimum living working odd jobs; yet, doggedly pursued his ambition to get educated. He realized, education was the only thing that could save him from degenerating into a guttersnipe. He managed to pass SSC attending evening classes. He later attended evening college for a few months and gave it up.

Even after he secured a job that fetched Rs.150 a month (a decent start in the 60s), he retained links with the Basti (slum dwellings) and was a sort of an all-purpose social worker. He was even a quack doctor, treating slum kids and women of minor illnesses. He learnt to treat injuries and fix bones of those hurt in gang wars but would not go to hospitals for fear of police. It was when he was becoming rather handy for the gangs and police began to suspect his links with gangs, Willy distanced himself quietly from that part of his life. In the meantime, he acquired familiarity with people in all strata of Bombay’s different worlds. He used that to help whoever came seeking help.

The wife of Boppanna Shetty; a new migrant , alone in Bombay, was taken away by the Municipality  to the  Isolation Hospital as she was afflicted with  small pox and the Hospital staff would not allow even Shetty, her husband, to meet the patient; as a precaution against spreading the contagious disease. Shetty was crying and howling at the Hospital gate. Rodriguez used his network, stayed alone with the luckless woman for three days until her death and later cremated her on behalf of her husband who was not permitted contact with the corpse.

Willy married rather late; a girl from his slum days. It was not all sweet- milk and honey – type of married life. She became a serious drug addict, a wayside victim of the Hippy invasion. When he realized she was beyond redemption he kept her going by injecting, until she died a year later.

After her death, alcohol became the refuge and ruin of Willy. How his old slum-mates cared for him and rescued him from disaster is another story. He later, regulated himself fairly well by restricting to evening bouts at the Boscos in the Colaba area. Weekend was another matter!

Willy lived alone. He was a lonely man though ever surrounded by his devote group of listners.The ribaldry, jokes etc., I think, was a sort of patchwork disguise. In his stories, he never judged or ridiculed his characters and had affection for the victims, as I mentioned. The women in office and elsewhere, for some reason, trusted him with their private anxieties and griefs; and sought his advice. He always had a word of comfort and cheer. He deposited all that was entrusted to him in his beer-belly, as he said; and never let another soul get wisp of that.

He did help those who came to him .He hated being called a good man or a kind man. Anyone thanking him more than they should, annoyed him very much. He would awkwardly freeze, turn away and ask them to leave. That acquired him the reputation of being a grumpy fellow who did not know how to accept a compliment.

I did not elaborate on Willy’s life-events, as they would not fit into the narration. It focused more on post retirement woes than on his life story. The run-up to the telemarketing repartee was an outline of how he appeared to the outside world.

After his retirement, Willy lived in Goa, alone, as you might have noticed. The invasion of his privacy, his panic and on going battle with constipation; were real. I cannot think of Willy being rude to women or hurting them in any manner. All his life, women trusted him and confided in him and he treated them fairly.

Most of the readers agreed that credit card and other marketing agents are a pain, particularly for those living alone in their old age. Many said they enjoyed reading the Rodriguez way. Some even remarked a few of Rodriguez’s methods were similar to their own.

Two or three remarked they deal with unsolicited calls quite effectively but not as elaborately as Willy did. “Who has time?” they queried. That is understandable. Willy was a retired person living alone and not everyone can be a Willy. 

 A few have suggested some new methods! A couple of the readers found a Willy in their office too.

 The repartee with the sales persons was bit made-up and bit blown up. The working women may not take kindly to the wit and sarcasm. I understand that. If someone saw a slant against women, I am sorry, that was not intended. It was just banter. I respect working women for their hard work, commitment and fortitude. I since mended that portion, a bit.

 The following four long winding, unpronounceable names cited in the story are real.

 

Magdalena Aubrey Menlo Santos Almeida,

Agostinha Rafael Maximiano Rasquinha,

Tirukkovillur Vaidyalingeshwaran Iyer and

Arunachala Kadambavana Sundari Prasunnamba Kanyaka. 

The last name ending with Kanyaka meaning: the blessed virgin who is beautiful and carries with her the radiance of sunshine, the fragrance of garden flowers, and the presence of God; is only the first name of a girl from a village in Andhra Pradesh. You still have to add to that plethora of verbiage, her village name, her father’s name and her family name. I would be surprised if that does not  make it the longest Indian name.

Even if someone is on a first name basis with the girl, it is still a marathon. My sympathies are with the boy.

As regards the jokes on Alzheimer‘s, it may look rather misplaced to those new to my pages. Not many read my blogs and those few who follow what I write, place that in the context of Dorabjee and might not find it offensive. Yet, I have since taken out the jokes.

I thank all for reading and taking the trouble to post comments.

 

Please keep talking.

 Regards.

 

Ratan Datta

Melody Queen

R-Sharma

Bijaya Ghosh

maddss123

charuavi

Aditi Ray

Gita Khanna

Red Strawberry

maria_m

Profravi

swarajya

N K Ravi

blogpulse

reflector

anamadheya

 

 

 

 
5 Comments

Posted by on August 31, 2012 in Story

 

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Post Retirement– Rodriguez way

Post Retirement– Rodriguez way.

 

After I read Ratan Datta’s piece on retimerement and its aftereffects, I mentioned it to my old friend and former colleague Rodriguez and enquired how the post retirement life was treating him. He, in his characteristic delightful manner, told me how he and life were treating each other. Before I go on to what he said I must tell you about my friend Rodriguez.

Willy Rodriguez was a jolly good Goan who imbibed all the enviable virtues of its delightfully relaxed way of life. Earlier in our lives, we worked in a Bombay based company that has since been taken over by a predator corporate company, as it usually happens in today’s dog-eat- dog business world. Rodriguez was a great sport and made life bearable in that dreary sweatshop called office; Yet, his PARs screeched and groaned like an old T-Model Ford and did not carry him further in his career. Outside of office, we were good friends though we were dissimilar in almost everyway.

Rodriguez had a way of “small-talking” with girls’; god’s gift as a swap for success in life, he said. Everyone affectionately called him Willy. The young and not- so- young lasses in the office scrambled through their work, dodged the mean, snarling watchdog, the boss, just for a snippet of friendly advice and “small talk” with Willy. He was the unpaid resident councilor of woe struck girls. Even the girls from neighboring offices stole time or sweet-talked their bosses for a short “time-off”; and hurriedly emptied their woes and heartaches into Willy’ s attentive ears, doleful eyes and gratefully grabbed his words of comfort and cheer; and hurriedly vanished back to their little desks.

For the young men, most of whom came from small towns and never in their “respectable “rustic life had heard a “bad-word” uttered so nonchalantly, Rodriguez was a wonder and a delight. They eagerly hung on his words and stories and repeated them elsewhere for the amazement and delight of their friends. Rodriguez was a treasure house of ribald stories, of cheating wives, their two timing sisters, lecherous bar-sharks poaching on not so-sober lonely hearts and of local Casanovas with their refined traps and tricks. He had a story to suit every taste and every occasion. He had a fair collection of ribald limericks, as a back up.

 
Rodriguez had a way of telling his stories. He narrated his stories in an even tone, never judged or ridiculed his characters; always had affection for them especially for the “victim”. He had a few little tricks up his sleeve, too. In office, as his devote little crowd of admirers leaned across his desk, greedily gulped his stories and just when the story was reaching a crunch and the bubble was about to burst, Rodriguez would suddenly remember an urgent call he had to make or pretend a “bulav” from his mean mouthed boss; and ruefully request his crestfallen listeners to meet him in the evening at his usual table in the Bascos, for rest of the story. They promptly did just that.
 
Rodriguez derived rascally devilish delight in teasing the “pristine puritan” type women whose holier- than – thou attitude always amused him. He would be over-polite and respectful to them; lull them falling into their familiar ways of criticizing mutual friends and when they were in full flow he would , all the while seeming to agree with them, innocently say a most horribly un-sayable thing , obviously in their support , and with a poker face watch them squirm in discomfort.
 
The value of Rodriguez’s presence in our miserable lives enhanced at times of our dire need. One could always depend on Rodriguez at times of sickness, death in the family, funeral or when one unwittingly got into a little trouble with the local police. To those hapless ones newly transferred to Bombay looking lost and bewildered he was the guiding angel. He would help them in securing ration card, gas connection, school admissions etc. Willy Rodriguez seemed to know almost everyone in Bombay. He helped willingly.
 
***
 
After his retirement, Willy Rodriguez is now settled in a town in Goa. He rues the loss of quality life of old Goa .Willy longs for fenny and fun filled late evenings of reckless delight on lonely beaches in company of his mates singing their heart out to the sinking sun.
 

Globalization has not spared the retired or even the semi retarded. It haunts you even in your home. One of the perils of retirement is being homebound during the day. You are a sitting duck for telemarketers and credit card vendors who tempt you and torment you with unsolicited offers.

Willy was hurt; he was robbed of his life and privacy. He wondered how the details of his chores and constipated bowl movements (or lack of it) were known to the agents of multinationals sitting in Bombay or elsewhere. He suspected an across the border conspiracy and “foreign hand”. They seemed not only to know when you are home, but also when you are eating, taking your bath or just sitting down to relax with a cold one and worst of all when you are locked in a grunting fight with an unyielding piece of your own miserly intestine.

Willy gave a serious thought and came up with a game plan. According to Willy, with his methods and with a little bit of play-acting and creativity, any healthy minded retired person would look forward to calls from credit card and marketing agents.

 
The following is how Willy turned torment into amusement and “time-pass”, as he said.
 

This is Willy’s manual for dealing unsolicited marketing:

Usually all such callers ask, “How are you today?” in their effort to cement a close and lasting bond.

Tell them. “Thank you for asking,” you spout. “My arthritis is killing me, I have gout in my left ear, and my eyelashes are sore. Did I tell you about my appendectomy last month? I think it’s growing back.”

Tell them about your just deceased pet, whom you loved more than life itself. Don’t omit details, especially every eulogy, word for word, at Dido’s elaborate funeral.

 
Do not sound bored or tedious. Sing into their ears. Evoke the human goodness in them.
 

If they survives this deluge, engage them in a little sweet talk. Enquire about their work, sympathize and say it must be very difficult for to market in these days of “cut throat competition” etc. “How long have you been with the company? Is your work driving you up the wall? How much money do you make?” and innocently ask ”How has your boss been treating you? Is he OK with you? Does he trouble you in any manner.. You know what I am saying” .You get the idea.

You talk about business for a while; suddenly as if inspired, you want to help . Then in a soothing friendly tone redirect them to some of your more affluent friends who, you tell them ”surely will help your sales and that should be useful to you.” After they thank you, ask them to take down some names. Then, depending on wherethey hail from, suggest long winding names or names hard to spell; such as Magdalena Aubrey Menlo Santos Almeida, Agostinha Rafael Maximiano Rasquinha, Tirukkovillur Vaidyalingeshwaran Iyer and Arunachala Kadambavana Sundari Prasunnamba Kanyaka.

 

When they are out of breath repeating those unpronounceable names , help them lovingly by spelling it forthem, “Let’s see,” you say with deliberate lethargy, “that’s B as in bad ass, A as in avoirdupois, R as in wretched, and B as in bye-bye.” As you mumble your way through the long winding torment, he/she is gasping for breath and sanity, is desperately seeking an exit like a trapped mouse and dying to say the famous last words “How do you rate this interview on one to ten?” Have sympathy for the hard working people . Give nine out of ten.

 

Note:
Not all of this may work on a single caller. This however is the general pattern. You can spread this out in bits and pieces on a number of callers, depending on the situation.
 
Here a few more ploys next time when marketing or credit card company agent comes calling: (Note: some of these might work only with Willy)
 
* When the caller gives her name, pretend that she is a long-lost friend. “Betty! It can’t be! How have you been since we served time together at that wretched company in Bombay? Are you still working there? Pity,,,, how is Mario, your boy friend..Do you still see him?” Don’t allow interruptions. Be relentless. “Oh, Betty you always were the kidder. But tell me, what ever became of that no-good lousy husband who tried to runaway with your sister?”
 
* A variation of the above method: Pretend the caller is your long lost friend and she is playing a prank on you. Insist that it’s all a big joke, and you’re not falling for it. “Come on, Marge, I know this is you. So cut it out. Hey, I’ve been meaning to ask, ‘How’s that guy who cost you last year your Skoda?'”
 
* Immediately, tell the caller that you are delighted that he called; you were about to call him; Thank God he did; is he telepathic? Pamper him. Invite him to come down. Tell him in your lovable drone that you are incarcerated at home wearing an ankle bracelet, and cajole him to bring over a bottle of fenny and some fried fish.
 
*Tell the caller that you’re busy right now, but if she’ll give you her mobile phone number, you’ll call her back.
 
a) When she gives her number, sweet- talk her at inconvenient hours laced with some business talk. Show more interest on business side, initially. It may work or it may not work but in any case, it is a “good time-pass”.
 
b) When the marketing agent explains that she can’t do that, respond with, “I suppose you don’t want anyone bothering you at home,” When she agrees, give her both barrels!
 
****************

A telemarketer called today

and when I answered with “Hello,”

she asked, “Is Mr. or Mrs. Murray in?”

I said, “Well, I can only be one or the other.”
She hung up…gotta love it!
 
 
I can almost tell by the bell
It’s someone who’s trying to sell.
“How are you?” they begin,
And then begins my sin
Of wishing they would go to hell.
 
***
A marketing Agent was instructed by her Boss to pursue a customer and was given a phone number. She earnestly began calling. Each time she called, another phone on the desk would ring. When she answered, no one was there. This continued throughout the morning. When later asked if she reached the customer, she explained what was happening and demonstrated for her Boss. He noticed that the phone number she was calling WAS THEIR OWN PHONE NUMBER! She had spent an entire morning calling herself
******

 Please read

for continuation
 
 
13 Comments

Posted by on August 31, 2012 in Story

 

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