December 14, 2008

Now, that's Dire!

Knopfler vs Ranikhet... a rant

Recently I listened to this song where the guy sang... o.k., well, he didn't actually sing as much as he read the lyrics, if it can be called "lyrics" at all. Here's how it went:

getting crazy on the waltzers but it's the life that i choose
sing about the six-blade sing about the switchback and a torture tattoo
and i been riding on a ghost train where the cars they scream and slam
and i don't know where i'll be tonight but i'd always tell you where i am

It doesn't end there, though. He "talks" on for about four more verses, where he takes a short break for a guitar solo, and then he comes back with a vengeance to "say" the finale. Now, I've had people rave to me about how deep and philosophical these lyrics are supposed to be, so I spent a considerable amount of time to decipher them.

After hours of pondering over the lyrics, I concluded that there was only one possibility. He is singing about the switchback. It's so simple, and he actually says it too: "Sing about the switchback". Now it makes perfect "sense", if you happen to know what the switchback is. And this guy makes his living by writing and "singing" his songs. Maybe that's why he called his band Dire Straits.

Don't get me wrong, though. There are plenty of people who are crazy about his music, and he's probably a millionaire many times over. There's this colleague of mine, a guy called Shyam, who swears by Dire Straits. Shyam eloped with his laptop a few of weeks ago. Last I heard he was holed up in Ranikhet, and he's taken his wife along too, for good measure. So you know the general mental state of Dire Straits fans.

Ranikhet is a small town just a few km west of absolutely nowhere. It is the exact opposite of Bangalore, geographically and in many other ways. It's not even in the same time zone as Bangalore. Bangalore follows the Indian Standard Time, and Ranikhet is in about 1922. When I say it's small, I mean it's really small. There is just one shop in Ranikhet. It's called "the switchback". 

No seriously, it doesn't really have a name, it's just known to the locals as "Sethji ka dukaan". It is the most happening place socially, and you can hang out there discussing the weather over cups of chaai with the "in" crowd of Ranikhet. Because, in Ranikhet, the weather is the most important topic. Other topics are mostly spin-offs from the weather. Most conversations go on like this:

A: Nice weather we're having. Hope it doesn't rain like last year.
B: Last year we had the elections this time. We had a nice party after the results came out.
A: I had to be carried home from that party. But the weather had cleared up by then.
B: Nice weather we're having....

The shop doesn't sell anything except switchbacks, but since no one really knows what they are, the shop doesn't do much business. Buying something more mundane like groceries in Ranikhet involves a complex procedure which, for future reference, you may wish to write down:

1. Get into the car.
2. Drive to Delhi.

No wait, I'm thinking about getting out of town (Aren't we all, mate ?). Groceries cannot be bought in Ranikhet. They have to be grown, and that is an impossible task unless you are a farmer. Then again, if you aren't a farmer, you have no business being in Ranikhet in the first place.

To be fair, Ranikhet isn't entirely bad. They never had any Y2K problems, for one. They also do not have any twin towers for Osama to target. What we should do is have a Dire Straits concert live in Ranikhet.