Saturday, August 22, 2009

A Tale of Two Bars

Last night, I and my friend went to three star bar. I do not partake of alcohol; my friend does. We sauntered into the smoking room. Again, I do not smoke, but my friend does; in packs earlier, two or three now. We sat down and my friend beckoned the waiter over. The Ashes test was on and it was being projected on a big screen TV. I noted that Australia was trailing and commented that ever since the departure of Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath, Australia seemed to have lost that sheen of invulnerability. The waiter brought a bottle of beer for him and soda for me. The levels of liquid in the bottles began to drop and we started to debate on various issues. We talked about the social differences-monetary, status, power so on. He argued that God seemed partial. I countered that it is not so, and that it is all part of a divine plan. The argument dragged on and on. He ordered a second bottle of beer, while I began to attack the food.

After a brief lull, I called up a colleague and asked him about a new movie that was releasing that day. He filed a hearsay report that the movie was not up to the hype that had been generated. I passed on the information to my friend. He had that "I told you so" smile on his face. The discussion shifted to movies and by this time two other customers of the bar had occupied seats near us. One of them asked my friend for a match and then they too joined in the discussion. They said that they were working in .......... Couriers. I told them I was working as a lecturer and my friend in a private bank. My mind assumed a notion of superiority and I said to myself what could these two know about art and culture that I did not know.

The answer was not long in coming. It was true that they did not know much in detail about film making. But it was clear what they wanted from movies. I did not expect some sophisticated expectancy earlier in people who I believed were in a lower "class of taste" than me. I just smiled at my own hypocrisy and superiority complex.

On the way back, I reflected on the lessons learnt. And vowed to appreciate everyone for what they were and not for what they seemed to be.

However, this lesson was to be reinforced with more severity 20 hours later.

A different bar this time. A local Tasmac shop. The debate over God's "partiality" began again. He pointed out that it had been said in the Bible that the world would start self destructing after 2000. I remained quiet. I knew it was not so. But I was not sure either. Then a man sitting next to us, intervened and said, "nowhere in the Bible has it been written that the world would end after 2000". "It has been said, however, that you shall know that the time of my second coming is at hand when these things shall transpire" he continued. He further mentioned that he was not a christian and that he had not studied after his 9th standard. I had long been prided myself that I was a good Christian. And yet, my pride had been reduced to ashes by a man who was not a christian and had not progressed beyond the 9th in his academic career.

He pointed out several more key verses and I was left astounded. It was like God telling me, you still have a lot to learn my son. I learnt that wisdom could be garnered, even from a seeming drunk in a ramshackle bar. He then said that God had blessed everyone abundantly. But we refuse to see what has been offered to us. Instead we seek the gift others have been bestowed with. We even throw temper tantrums that we have not received such gifts. My friend was silenced. He sank into a long period of introspection.

On the way back this time, he said "I never thought God would speak to me through a drunkard" and I said, what was possibly the wisest thing I have said to date, "even he is a child of God, so if his Father decides to speak to us through him, we should listen."