The 30-year story

By: Mahesh Verma

6+7+8+9, a score and ten, three decades, XXX et al…all refer to the ‘flirty thirty’ and yes, the last bit is indeed the Roman way of writing that number, and does not refer to what some of you are thinking!

So the million rial question is, why this fascination with the number 30? And why not a fetish for “fifty” shades of grey or black or whatever? The raison d’etre (if that is indeed the word one is looking for) is that the day after happens to be 1st of May or May Day or International Workers’ Day (also known as Labour Day) and 30 years ago, a youngish labourer landed in the sultanate, from a very politically aware city called Calcutta, which then had a Marxist-led Left Front government.

Coincidentally, almost 30 years to that date, I am penning this (rather typing this) from the place where the story all began… . In 1985 I left Calcutta – the ‘City of Joy’, but now that is known as Kolkata and it’s also now debatable whether without the “Left Front” government, the present one is the “Right” or the “wrong” one in power.

So for the last 30 years, one has diligently marked Labour Day as the dawn of a new era, since the family of three left behind the iconic Victoria Memorial, the to-die-for pastries of Firpos in Park Street, the cabarets in Moulin Rouge and the jazz band in Blue Fox, the hustle-bustle of Dalhousie and Esplanade and the majestic Eden gardens and entered the portals of the Paradise of Arabia and saw the sandy silhouette gradually turn into our Garden of Eden.

1985 witnessed the inauguration of the Al Bustan Palace Hotel and 2015 will probably see the Kempinski wave out from its gorgeous beach-front abode. 1985 saw a banker leave the largest Indian banking group to join a smallish bank in Oman run by professed ‘banquers’ and 2015 sees him as an ex-banker ‘disinterested’ and on way to being expunged as a punster.

1985 saw your’s faithfully with one little baby in his arm and a little (oh ok, petite) woman by his side and 2015 sees him with two gorgeous daughters on his arms and a petite, gracefully-greying woman by his side. Thirty years ago saw me walk home from work (till the driving licence was finally secured after six agonising attempts) and 30 years later I still walk home from work (as work now is normally done from home).

Thirty years ago, one was thinner and fitter and so were the friends. Thirty years later we are neither fitter nor leaner! Thirty years ago, another banker had also come into Oman, but unlike this minion, he had come to turn around a bank that had virtually collapsed.

Thirty years later he is now settled in Dubai, after having led his team to turn that one branch operation into a monolith, which now has 138 branches and is the leading bank in the sultanate. And today YCD is a year older…happy birthday to my mentor, friend, philosopher and guide who I affectionately call ‘Boss’! Wishing you good health and happiness and hope you celebrate with tons of the bubbly stuff with “beaded bubbles winking at the brim” of the flute. Hopefully now it will dawn on the likes of Mr Pattison why XXX refers to 6+7+8+9 and not 9+19+20+21!

With summer now having definitely set in, it is no more the “season of mists and mellow fruitfulness” but has become the season of farewells and good byes as the current Safeer-e-Hind and his lovely wife prepare to leave the sultanate (after almost three and half years) and head to The Hague.

Bon voyage to a fellow survivor of triskaidekaphobia. Ta-ta from TT to a couple who also have successfully proven that 13 is actually a good number and there is nothing really to be scared of, specially if it happens to be February 13th. As the Dutch would say….Doei! Wishing Excellency and Mitaji a wonderful stay in the Netherlands. You all will probably not miss the summer heat of Oman but will definitely miss the warmth of the people here and the non-stop socialising! And though there is still a month or two left for you all to finally leave Oman, let this be the first of the many good byes. Ma’salaama, adieu etc etc.

And before I sign off, a few random thoughts:

Do you know that apparently Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus? In our household, the meat is from Mars (hypermarket) and dosas are from Venus (restaurant).

Do you know that when I was young, I was afraid of the dark. Now when I get my electricity bill, I am afraid of the light.

Do you know that I do not hold grudges? I only remember facts…forever!

Till next fortnight…

SOURCE: Muscat Daily