Tuesday, 21 April 2009
Herman was the big boss of the Industrial Products (IP) division. A tall, dark man, sporting an eternal scowl, his presence could be forbidding, to say the least. I was not reporting to him; we were just colleagues sharing adjacent tables and that was all right. Herman treated a junior colleague like me with an air of faint but acceptable tolerance. Relations between us, one could say, were cordial.
So one day, when Herman announced that he was getting an assistant, I was curious. Would it be somebody like Herman, cold, humourless, and unapproachable or would it be somebody younger and more fun to be with?
Subbudu turned out to be neither. He was a short, round man in his thirties, eager to please and, as I was to realise later, full of his own importance that made him act in a grave and ponderous matter. We became friends and Subbudu told me that he did not smoke and was a vegetarian and a teetotaller. He had also elaborate plans to revamp the entire IP department and confided in me that Herman was on old geezer far behind his times.
I said nothing.
Shortly afterwards, IP department gets a visitor from England and Herman, Subbudu and Tim Robinson go to an exclusive five star restaurant for dinner. As I was not present, Herman told me the next day about that memorable evening.
The drinks menu is passed around and Subbudu first orders orange juice. Seeing the others order scotch and soda, he changes his mind and asks the waiter to bring Chivas Regal because “he has heard so much about it.” By the time the others have barely finished the first round, our man is onto his third drink and showing alarming signs of inebriation.
The food menu is circulated and Subbudu opts for vegetarian. Conversation happens in fits and starts because both Herman and Tim are keeping half a wary eye on our man who is periodically nodding his head and smiling vacantly into space.
The food arrives. Subbudu finds the “Pork Loin chops in Apple Cream” ordered by Tim to be much more visually appealing than the Indian vegetarian dish ordered by him. He makes a grab for Tim’s plate without so much as a by your leave. While a mortified Herman looks on helplessly, Subbudu starts attacking the pork chops ferociously and untidily, splattering the gravy liberally on his face and shirt front.
A normally reticent Herman all but sobbed on my shoulder the next day. “I tell you Rada, I wish the earth had opened up and swallowed me that minute,” Herman said. “I have never been so embarrassed in my life!”
Needless to add, Subbudu did not work for Herman long.
Image Courtesy: www.sptimes.com