Friday, January 20, 2006

How did Dr.Rajkumar become God?

Dr.Rajkumar is a well known and well respected legend in the Kannada movie industry whom we lost recently. He is an idol who had personified good and clean cinema in Karnataka and India. A man with a high standard of living. Someone a mere mortal like myself dare not attempt to describe in words. Famed performers from other regions too have a lot of regard to this down-to-earth man who led a simple life despite his overwhelming fame. I have always admired him and being a Kannadiga myself, take a lot of pride in calling Dr.Raj a Kannadiga as well. The story I am about to narrate is a real incident and will feature Dr.Raj in a very unique role. But wait...what has that got to do with him becoming God? Read on.

This event took place in 2003. My third consecutive year of stay in Caracas city, Venezuela. For those who are weak in geography like myself (heck..I thought it was in Africa for starters!) Venezuela is the northern most country in the Latin American continent sandwiched between Brazil and Colombia. It was a hot Saturday afternoon and I was on my way home as usual with the four something rather bulky bags of groceries. Though my apartment is at a walking distance to the supermarket where I shop, I could not imagine climbing up the steep roads of Las Mercedes (the neighborhood I live in) that we have in Caracas with a rather furious sun above. Hence like most sane people, I decided to hail a taxi.

Once inside like most sane taxi walahs, our dear man started his very graphic 'tantrum tour' at the traffic jams. To make the wait more pleasant he decided to talk to me.

This is where the story needs a little background information. Venezuela (and most of the Latin American continent) speaks Spanish. I am from Bangalore, India. You do the math. Although I spoke a little Spanish myself, I usually restricted my vocabulary to "Si." which means "Yes" in Spanish. Some wise person once told me that when in a foreign country's cab, always agree with the cab driver and everything will be fine. That is exactly what I planned to do here.

Considering our linguistic differences our conversation went something like this...

Taxi walah: "So where are you from?"

Me: "India"

Taxi walah: "Oh wow! India....huh.....Sai Baba....Mother Teresa....Gandhi..."

Me: "Yes. I know them all. Nice people."

Taxi walah: "You know...one of my friends visited India a few years ago...diverse culture....lot of people...."

Me: "Really! Yes. That is amazing."

Taxi walah: "Nueva Delhi.....Bumbaai...Tamaha...."

Me: "Tamaha..?"

Taxi walah: "Yes! Yes! Made of pure marble!"

Me: "Oh! Taj Mahal! Yes. It sure is a spectacle. In fact...."

He conveniently interrupted me and continued.

Taxi walah: "Bumbaloor..."

Wait. Did he just say what I thought he did? Or was it that I was hearing voices from within my head. Here I was sweating my tail off in the middle of the chaos that Caracas is with a load of supplies that I need for a survival and this guy mentions something sounding like Bangalore! I could not believe my ears. Initially I thought I was hallucinating since the heat was pretty intense. So I decided to confirm that thought.

Me: "Ban-galore?" I said with a pause so that he got the name right.

Taxi walah: "Yes! Yes! Bamgaloor...."

I could not help but smile at the very mention of my roots from this non-English speaking foreigner.

Me: "Very well. I am from that city too."

Taxi walah: (Not even pretending to care) "Ah-huh....so you have lots of Gods, yes?"

Me: "Well...yes. We have them all stocked up in case of emergencies..." (in my mind I was throwing myself at every God's feet I knew for being so arrogant. I am a God fearing man you see.)

Taxi walah: "Krisssneee...."

Me: "Krishna?"

Taxi walah: "Yes! Yes! Krichna!"

Me: "My last name is Krishna. Common practice in India to keep names after Gods. Of course, common practice that the person is never remotely related to his name hence I have terrible luck with girls...."

I chuckled nervously hoping he would see the humor. He did not.

Taxi walah: "Krichnee....Krichnee.....I have a picture!"

His child-like enthusiasm actually got my attention now. I wanted to know what it is he had as 'God' from India since lately almost every foreigner I had met seemed to know more about our Gods than most of us.

He looked around in his glove compartment and fished out a rather weak looking photograph which seemed to have been losing color due to over usage.

He twisted it around so that I could get a better look. That moment has been etched in my memory for as long as I shall live and breathe. Never before in my 6 years abroad had I experienced such joy , astonishment, confusion, sadness, homesickness all at the same time. The roller coaster ride of emotions I took that day has been a part of me since.

There in the middle of nowhere-near-India....in the taxi of a guy whose name I did not know....at a time when I had lost all hope of meeting anyone from India anytime soon let alone Bangalore.....smiling back at me was none other than.....Lord Krishna? Nope. The one and only Dr.Rajkumar! Yes..the man himself dressed up like Lord Krishna from one of his many devotional movies.

Any true blue blooded Kannadiga would have felt the same rush I did in that hot afternoon's super hot event in that taxi. Whoever said cab rides were a bore had clearly not been through an experience like mine. I did not know how to react as the rather excited cabbie kept rubbing that photo in my face going "Yes?Yes? Krichneee yes?"

I had a spiritual awakening in that moment. I was at a genuine crossroad for the first time in my foreign life. On the one hand I could laugh in his face and tell him what a fool someone had made his sad little friend in Bangalore by giving him a photograph of Dr.Raj and passing it off as the Almighty. On the other, I could be responsible for helping this guy keep his faith on this unknown Indian God who he thought had been pretty helpful in his life. I mean...what are the odds of him finding out it was Dr.Raj anyway, I thought.

I took a deep breathe, smiled and nodded my headed in approval.

Me: "Yes. That is Lord Krishna. Good looking God. Yes?"


ShaKri

18 reflections:

ORama said...

Love your narration/writing style. Good work, Shakri!

ripper

shakri said...

Thanks for the appreciative response again Ripper. I am glad you liked it.

ShaKri

Murmi said...

Shashi...had heard this story when you narrated this in KA forum during your first innings there. Hope now that you have completed your second innings there you will be back there for your third innings.

Manu said...

Shashi,

I am visiting here from the message posted in kannadatorrents.com.

I had already read it once through some other link and forgot to leave my comment here....

It a fantastic narration from you....

Manu

Deepa said...

great story. jai Karnataka, may I say?

shakri said...

Many thanks to everyone who took the time to respond. Your gesture of support is truly appreciated. Murmi, Manu and Deepa...your words have inspired me to write more. :) Please continue visiting my humble nest.

And yes Deepa...Jai Karnataka indeed!

ShaKri

ಸುಸಂಕೃತ said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
ಸುಸಂಕೃತ said...

Indeed, very well narrated!
ಎಷ್ಟೇ ಆಗಲಿ 'ಅಣ್ಣಾವ್ರು' ಅಂದ್ರೇನು ಅವರ ಲೆವೆಲ್ಲಂದ್ರೇನು ;)

Shashi..Thanks for those comments.
I shall make sure that i visit your blog regularly frm now.

-ಸುಸಂಕೃತ

shakri said...

Thanks for being here Susan. I am glad you enjoyed it. You are always welcome here.

ShaKri

madhuapp said...

I really cant believe this. Its really nice to hear such stories especially of Kannadiga's
Long live Dr.Rajkumar, Long live Kannada, Long Live Kannadigas

shakri said...

Thank you madhu for being here. It is unfortunate that we have lost such a priceless legend to the realities of life. May his soul rest in peace.

myindia said...

Hi Shakri Really beutifully narrated story it is. I really got thrilled as i went on reading. I had a news for all Raj fans, visit http://rajkumar.co.nr a website exclusively for raj fans.

Shiv said...

Super Post !
I was in goosebumps when I came to know who was the Krishna in that foto..When you saw that I believe you had become speechless..

Thanks for visiting my blog..

Sree said...

wow! great post! narration sakhathaagide! can i link ur blog?
(n thanks for visiting our 'under construction' haraTe kaTTe!:) will keep u informed when we have something readable there:) )

shakri said...

Sure thing. Thank you for appreciating the story. And yes. I will look forward to the constructed site.

Beau Peep said...

Excellent post ShaKri (Shankar Krishna?). Followed the link through your comment on my post and got to read this very entertaining, very interesting, thought provoking (maybe provoking imaginary emotions too) and well-written post.

Guess, I have to come here more often. :-)

shakri said...

Thanks BP. A little late I am afraid in responding but thanks for being here.

calvin said...

Wow what a wonderful writeup. With ur kind permisiion, am posting this in viggy forums under ur name.

Plz feel free to visit www.viggy.com/forum
if ur already not a member. and if u feel I should not post this..plz let me know. AM moderator there.

mail me: calvin_nr@yahoo.com

 
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