Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Our James Bond...

Like all Indians in Pakistan, we have learnt to live with our shalwar-kurta clad, Yamaha-riding shadows. We quite like them because they follow us around town faithfully, making us feel what we are not -- IMPORTANT.

In the two years we have spent on this side of the Wagah border, we've had very little trouble with them. We've perfected the art of stealing glances at them when they are not looking, or when we think they are not, and concluded that they are all chips off the same block.

So we were pleasantly surprised when we discovered that a baseball cap and denim-wearing chubby-cheeked guy, broiling in the May sun, was our new shadow. We would often see him parked under a tree opposite our house, chatting with private security guards from other homes or playing cricket with kids.

He would sometimes follow me as I went to the market to buy veggies and peer at me through his Aviator glasses, always from the same spot -- almost apologetically. He would follow me back home and then take up his turn to bat.

My husband and I decided to call him James Bond. Soon we got used to having him around us. Often we would feel sorry that he had to spend long hours in the sweltering heat to keep an eye on us as we did nothing more than sit in the comfort of our home.

One July afternoon, it was unusually hot, and we saw James Bond wearing his trademark pink shirt and fanning himself with a newspaper. My husband and I decided to send him and the guards a drink. We saw him accept the drink from our maid with some reluctance.

We sent word to him that he could ask for a chilled glass of water or anything else whenever he wanted. We were happy that he accepted our offer.

Sadly, that was the last time we saw James Bond. His heart stopped beating the next day -- some security guards told my husband that he had died of a sudden heart attack. But when I stand on the terrace of our home and look across the street, I sometimes think I can still see him sitting on his motorcycle, baseball cap on his head and keeping a watchful eye from behind his sunglasses.

71 comments:

  1. Hi.
    Enjoyed your posts very much. Got to know of your blog thanks to Laskar's FB alert. I used to work with him at IANS. Looking forward to more from you.

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  2. Hey thanks for reading. Will surely post more.

    :)

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  3. Err...by any chance would you fancy helping a journalist friend and me get a week long visa to Lahore. We want to be there to "rediscover our roots" (that sort of thing).

    Say no, if you can't/don't want to.

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  4. I'd love to help, but can't :(

    Thanks for dropping by though XYZ...

    :)

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  5. Only 3 posts? Post more please. Would love to read.. Very interesting..

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  6. fascinating, wasn't it you guys who asked a 'James Bond' to bring the vegetables home from the market once?

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  7. Yeah, just once Sandeep...hehehe

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  8. Maybe there will be a part2 of James Bond.

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  9. There will be several parts...

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  10. You gave him drink and he died the next day. Are you sure you didn't spike his drink?

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  11. Hi,
    I came across ur post via the twitter stream.I found ur post interesting.Getting to read the life of an Indian on the other side of the border make it worth the while.Hoping to read more such posts.

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  12. the beauty of your writing captures the sadness wonderfully. I do think James Bond died because of the unexpected kindness you showed him which his heart probably could not handle.

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  13. hey! went thru ur blog..very interesting.u guys r proving there is so much more to Pakistan beyond what is typecasted..great job!!

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  14. Hey... liked your post a lot.. got to know it through Shashi Taroor's tweet.. waiting for more... Take Care ...

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  15. HUFF SAD STORY, U HAPPEN TO MISS YOUR ENEMY ALSO, IF YOUO GET USED TO OF IT TOO. MANY QUESTIONS WHY HEARTATTACK? MAY BE HE GET SUDDEN SHOCK FOR THIS HUMBLE HUMAN RESPONSE. ANYWAYS ALL THE BEST AND TAKE CARE.

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  16. Or was he killed because he was friendly with you? Do you suspect anything?

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  17. Wonderful read... Do keep writing about all the subsequent Bonds as well :-)

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  18. LOL, ok, wait a minute, why are people following you around anyway?

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  19. I was engrossed in reading it.
    Its superb.
    I can understand how creative you are as i am a writer.
    Keep it up!

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  20. Very nice post!! sweet and simple. nice name 'James bond' , story of other side of the border are similar to ours , will keep following u ... kudos :-)

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  21. You didnt tried to find out who gave him the task to keep a vigil on you...

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  22. It was good 2 read from an Indian across d border..!! 2day nly i was talkin 2 my frndz that one day in my life i wl surely b visitin pakistan and i came across this beautiful blog..!! thank u..!!

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  23. very nice read... thanks to Shashi Tharur for tweeting the link. But I don't get the end. Are you sure he died? or its the mere figurative pointer that the authorities rotated him as they got a hint that he is getting friendly with you?

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  24. If u r thinking how ur blog has got so many visitors and 20 comments in half an hour after almost a month of last reply, then this is it
    http://twitter.com/ShashiTharoor/status/10331981972

    nice Blog
    Grippingly written. If I say my company had asked me whether I am ready to travel to pakistan in Punjab for an official tour and would come to you for advice, what would be your opinion. Should I visit? Is it safe?

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  25. i hope these blogs give us the necessary bonding thats reqd for the two countries to be the biggest powers of the world and have a say in the international affairs instead of just being involved in petty fights..

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  26. Thanks all for reading :)

    @Gagandeep, the gentleman is indeed dead. We do miss him as he was one of the nicest of the shadows we have come across.

    @Amit, most parts of Punjab are as safe to visit as possibly anywhere in India and a visit to Pakistan is most definitely recommended for all Indians.

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  27. sad.................

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  28. ...and, of course, a very big thank you to Mr Shashi Tharoor!

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  29. @wakaaw, I hope you make the trip across the border, it will be worth it. Far too many myths in both countries that need to be busted.

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  30. Wonderful post :)
    You have written the post so very well that now I also can see him keeping a watch on me from behind his sunglasses as I am typing.
    May your james bond rest in peace !
    But who was he ?

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  31. Loved this post... truly lovely... keep writing! :)

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  32. @Kasturi, thanks. We never got to know his name, as with most of our shadows. But he was one of the few who did speak to me on one occasion.

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  33. Waiting for more with baited breath... What next What next!!! ;-)

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  34. Very nice. I got this from Mr Tharoor's tweet. I hope you guys will have a safe stay and believe that common man there is as good and as bad as in India? You should write more about your experiences. And also, please let us know about the food, which I understand is delicious!!!!
    Thanks
    Ayush

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  35. Nice read...! Thanks to Mr Tharoor for sharing the link.

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  36. thanx to Tharoor for tweeting the link.are u a writter? its really touching

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  37. thanx for Tharoor for tweeting the link.Are u a writter? its very interesting and keep posting more

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  38. Beautiful read! Thanks to Sashi Tharoor's tweet. Tell me what if there were no politicians and Pakistan and India had only aam admis; will there still be two nations?

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  39. Personally I've had good pak friends and the've been extremely nice and we nurtured good friendship.

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  40. Thanks to Shashi Tharoor, lots of Indians are going to read your blog. And know that Pakistani people are just like us, one of us, some good ones and some bad ones. No branding should be done.

    I loved the way you described this incident. I really felt sad while reading that he was no more. He must have been an active man, with all the playing and running around.

    I am familiar with Pakistani security people following Indians, whoever they are, from articles in our magazines.

    You are a nice compassionate couple, nice to know you. Take care.

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  41. i felt as if i was there, good work keep it up.

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  42. hey,
    it's just captivates the inner soul. love to read more of ur posts.. thanks to shashi taroor from whom i got to know.
    thanks

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  43. Looking forward to reading more from your experiences on the other side of the border. Keep posting. Men and women are basically same all over the globe. But it is the ideas that make them noble or brutal. It is the human wants that generate ideas

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  44. @all of you, there are so many -- thanks so much for the kind words. There's nothing better for a writer than to have his/her work appreciated.
    @Surajit, if it was just the aam admis, I think things would be a little easier; not perfect, but easier.

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  45. The most interesting part in your story, i found is that you accepted something which people sitting this side never do.

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  46. Well I was wondering how lucky u have got by a person like shashi tharoor as ur brand ambassodor.. but after reading it I feel.. it was well worth promotion! keep the good work up guyz best of luck and do let me know if a fellow journalist at the other side of the border can be of any help!

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  47. Great to read..Thanx to Mr.Tharoor's tweet.otherwise we wld hav missed such a gr8 blog..keep it up..eagerly waiting 4 ur next one..

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  48. Hey wo what do I C!!...First there were 5...now there are 55 (comments) .first there were 65 and now there are 165 (followers)
    Gr8..Mr Shashi has made your blog world famous !!!
    I am so happy people havent stopped reading who says people dont read :)

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  49. sad story. thanx to ShashiTharoor tweet ,so i could read it.hoping to read more of ur blog

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  50. very concise nd nice article.poor guy,died just for nothing.so how r people there treat u ?

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  51. Hey awesome man....will keep on reading more...

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  52. beautiful post... yes ur kindness was too much for him to handle. Good luck

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  53. Anybody care to place a wager that it was Aconite rather than 'sudden heart attack'?

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  54. thought provoking...is it fantassy or has it happened like that?

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  55. Thank you all for reading, liking.

    Rajgopal, this is for real :)

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  56. I really liked your blog.. Hope one day the problem will end and ull live without any such James Bonds.. Will pray for it just like millions of Indians

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  57. So sad post! Heart Attack could be due to sun stroke(hyperthermia) from dehydration & using alcohol in very hot sun. Please hydrate your shadows with water..in future..things could repeat..
    A good hearted long-term shadow is better than a Laskhar-e-Toiba type freak..keep them alive will ya..
    :( I jumped on the post seeing yet another James Bond title hoping a "diplomat-donkey" bonhomie moment..but alas! Shakespearean tragedy ..Sigh!

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  58. i was looking forward to him start joining you guys for the evening tea or something. R.I.P bond :(

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  59. RCP, thanks :)

    Kannan, will keep them hydrated -- promise!

    Junaid, someone once shook hands with their Bhai aka Bond....the Bhai was transferred the next day!! So you can imagine what a tea bonhomie would result in :)

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  60. You guys have accepted the shadows with an understanding.There is this blog written by a Pak diplomat's son who has picturised it in the most autrocious manner.They are doing thier job after all.The guy has written how they used pour water on him and all that.Hope James Bond's soul RIP.

    cant find the link.it was in paktribune i guess,will post it

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