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Posts Tagged ‘Elvis Presley’

Four Musicians of Bremen©

Shmuck always thought he was the most likely to succeed in his class. When he graduated with distinction he went to work for a gnome in Zurich. He slaved like a donkey to make the House of Black Friars the biggest bank. But one day he was shown the door. When he went out the portier feeling sad asked if he had thought of singing for his supper. Shmuck was an expert at it he said.’Show me the color of money I will make my guitar weep.’ he added with a laugh. Finally he said,’I shall go to Bremen that lies at the end of the rainbow.’

That was how Mr.Shmuck hit the road. With a song in his heart and without a care except his severance pay and it weighed heavily in his pocket. Before long he met a fellow who sang only one tune and his imitation of Elvis Presley was fantastic. When he sang the number ‘Hound Dog’ even late king turned in his grave to say in sepulchral tone,’I am stoned,man!’.

Mr. Shmuck heard Mr.’bulldog’ Drummond and said, ‘We shall conquer Bremen!” Mr. Drummond didn’t know what was special about Bremen but the way Shmuck, the donkey described it,’ It was Graceland prim and proper’.

A little further the two came across a drag queen. ‘I am Meeow,’ and asked them to follow the rules if they expected to conquer Bremen.’I am It to you but Alley Cat to others.’

The two were surprised that there were such rules for one who played coy and played like a jerk in next. ‘Meeow likes to purr!’ said It cheerily.

‘Can you sing?’

‘O I sing flat like no other!’ replied It coyly.

Any instrument?’

‘Just me and my Jewish harp!’

‘You will do’ said the other two.

In the town they came next was a popinjay and he strutted while they were supping in a motel. They saw his outlandish dress and exaggerated manners and asked him to join them.’ I came to this town hoping to buy a suit most sober for an undertaker.’ He said and his sad story continued, ‘I wanted this gray suit that I saw hanging in a shop window. Since buying it I got a funeral parlor as if I had pressed some magic button.’  He added how it got into his head to strut about like a rooster since every wish began coming true.He ended ssaying,’ I lost it all since townsfolk thought a high kicking undertaker who had a joke for every wake was giving death a bad name.’

‘Call Me Dude, the rooster.’ Dude wasn’t in the least bothered by his losses. As he said he intended to make his loss add to his personality. ‘But can you sing? they anxiously asked him.

‘Some times I am adenoidal, but mostly I prefer off-key’ replied he. He said he took to rap music and as if to prove he gave an impromptu song and dance,’Adenoidal, it’ s me/All I need is a nod/I can make paranoia/ seem elemental.’

The three immediately took him. They didn’t know what he meant but it sounded very musical to them.

Thus the four went to a town and they said they should sleep early since they would be wowing the folks of Bremen next morning.

All the more reason we should paint the town red.’ insisted Dude the rooster.

So they let Dude to arrange a card party. Ten thalers a point they played for high stakes. The four musicians were losing like a roller coaster that had missed rail some hours earlier. The donkey whispered in between to ask Meeow if It knew what was going on. The drag queen threw Its hand and said,’ Even the folks from Bremen have come pouring to take us on.’ It was true. The news went around about Four musicians who were hell bent to lose. ‘Ah this is is the lowest form of self-advertisement,’ worthy wight observed,’ they are bent on making the city of Bremen to sit and take note.’

The game was in full swing. He directly put a duffel bag full of money to play against the four.

The fellows of Bremen took turns to play against these four and in the end the four owed the city of Bremen 6 million thalers not counting the sundry losses the four had incurred in playing against the other guests in the hotel.

The Mayor at one point stood up and demanded the four musicians to make good of their losses.’We won good and proper.’

Mr. Dude the rooster let out a cry ‘cock a doodle doo.’

When asked what he meant he said, ‘Nothing‘ that will stand up in a court of law.’

The other three pointed to each other and said, ‘We shall sing for your suppers,considering you shall be kicked out of the City Hall for gambling away the reputation and assets’.

The folks of Bremen looked at each other and they knew they gambled for nothing. They were disappointed and angry.’ They surrounded the Mayor and their councillors saying,’You all are a bunch of crooks!’

In the end the four musicians of Bremen began singing for suppers of those who were thrown out of their office.

They survived in spite of this. Many thought it was very decent for them to care for the unfortunates. Centuries later they have become the stuff legends are made of, but somewhat altered in the real facts. There is a famous statue commemorating the four in the city of Bremen.

benny

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When I became aware of fashion trends Elvis was the reigning king. My  eldest brother Babs was the trendsetter for my brother and me. Being the first born he had the privilege of clothes by yard and stiched to measure by one tailor whom we knew by name. What’s more my father made it a matter of family honor to accompany him to shop. Afterall Babs was going to study medicine.  He could parade the thoroughbred for the punters to bet on.  A doctor made every Marwari, Bihari or arami sit up and notice. It was thus my brother set out to be fashion plate.

At home my brother and I waited to see the outcome. That evening my eldest brother came home very agitated. he had seen himself as a buck in the swim of things among young bucks as he. He swore a father who didn’t know Elvis or what he stood for was a disgrace. Babs confided later in the evening, all he had mentioned drain pipes when the tailor took the measure. It seems my father put his foot down emphatically and said, ‘No way!’  The tailor said helpfully it was the trend.  My Father seemed to have said, ‘devil take the trend’ Of course it was he who paid, so tailor was sure drainpipe style was a flash in the pan. From my brother’s angst I became aware of fashion as one’s visiting card to the world.

The world took measure of you in the way you presented yourself. Period.

When my turn came I was sure I would say no as emphatically as my father had expressed, to drainpipes. Unfortunately it didn’tcome to that. My brothers were already in far corners of the earth and their discards were in the shelf. My father examined them and they were more mothballs than fabric in them.  For once he and I were in accord. He said in my earshot to my mother,’I hate to see Benny in them.’ I felt proud that he placed me rightly as the youngest in the family. ‘No drainpipes, No discards for one as privileged as I’, saidI.

In 1964 when I first went to Chennai (Madras then) I found among list of  my wardrobe written in my mothers rounded handwriting most of fathers woollen pants neatly packed. Only then I appreciated Joseph’s coat of many colors. Every color that graced on the backs of Ruben Levi, Naphthali and Simon must have found in the patchwork. Wily old Jacob! wily old father who knew how far the hand-me-down should stretch!

Even now I shudder as I write these ,’what madness came over me to wear my fathers clothes?’.

Under the sweltering Madras summer 40 degree heat my woollen pants took a terible beating. While my friends and I were chilling out at Buharis on the Mount Road, I was feeling the heat that stuck to my calves.

The pants of my father was designed to hang sportingly on a gargantuan midriff but I always had that lean and hungry look in those days. Of course I hungred after a slice of fashion but to tell the truth the belt tightened around the middle belied that  lean and hungry look.

At an age of drainpipes I was sporting bellbottoms! Now I have a sneaking suspicion I set the trend of bell bottom that came only a decade later.  Did some Mexican tourists copy my style or what?

Once or twice my friends noticed my woollen pants and asked in a friendly concern,’Wouldn’t you find it terribly hot, ben?”

“Oh no In  fact I love them!” How humiliating to think of it!

Having brazenly weathered under discards, hand-me- downs I don’t care too hoots for fashion.

Only two prayers I have in my old age:

O God let me have fresh clean toilet roll for my bottom and a clean handkerchief to blow my nose in. For the rest I don’t care.’

benny

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