23 October, 2020

Mumbai's Boswell

Vintage Busybee: laugh your way thru a legend's bank of mirth

Mumbai's Boswell
AT 6.15 pm on the local Borivili Express pulling out of Mumbai's Victoria Terminus, the keen anthropologist may observe a unique phenomenon. Commuters—oblivious to the anguished cries of hapless fellow travellers as they fall off the train, are trampled underfoot, ripped off their gold chains, have their bottoms pinched—bury their noses in the back page of The Afternoon Despatch and Courier with giggles, chuckles, guffaws and other unseemly displays of mirth. They are communing with Mumbai's best-loved columnist, Busybee.

Leafing with happy deja vu through Busybee's first collection, culled from 1996-97, I am reminded of Alexander Dumas' opening sentence in Scaramouche: "He was born with the gift of laughter and a sense that the world was mad." True wit, as opposed to the blundering slapstick which we excel in, is a rare commodity in India. True wit, on inventive daily display for 30 years, is little short of a miracle. Happily for us all, an ageless Parsi gentleman in Mumbai, self-effacing to the point of invisibility, with the forgettable name of Behram...



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