India Uncut

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Friday, February 24, 2006

The adventures of Ponty Manesar

An even bigger question than “How does one entertain oneself in small towns?” is “How does one wake up early in small towns?” Yesterday, the first day of the tour game between England and the Board President’s XI, I had trouble rousing myself out of bed, as did my room-mate, young Jamie Alter from Cricinfo. What finally woke us up was a series of fine adventures we concocted around Ponty Manesar – as we call this feller.

The previous day young Jamie had watched Ponty drop a few catches in the nets, and Ponty had seemed to be rather hapless, the kind of young man who gets ragged by his team-mates and suchlike. Plus, he’s a surd. So we imagined a number of situations in which Ponty finds himself, which are all very PJ-like, but we rather enjoyed some of them, so why not blog them? I’d like to emphasize that neither of us have met Ponty, and all these stories are entirely fictional. Also, if Monty is reading this, apologies! Here we go:

* * * *

Ponty Manesar shares a room with Shaun Udal, one of his spin rivals in the England team. Udal notes that Ponty is not too good at taking catches. So he decides to tire his rival out the night before a game. He buys a crazy ball, and says to Ponty, “Catch, Ponty!” Then he throws the crazy ball at a wall, and as it bounces from wall to wall, young Ponty runs around madly trying to catch it, arms and legs flailing here and there. Every once in a while, Udal throws another crazy ball at a wall and shouts, “catch, Ponty!”

* * *

Ponty is appealing in his sleep (verb, not adjective) when Udal, disturbed by the noise, shakes him awake and says “Ponty, keep it down!” Then he turns and goes back to sleep.

Poor Ponty wonders what it is that Udal wants him to keep down. He looks all around him and, not finding anything else, puts the phone on the floor.

* * *

A few minutes later, an idea strikes Ponty: Udal is his rival for a place in the side, and here’s Ponty’s chance to make him ill so he can’t play. Ponty gets up and puts on thermal underwear. Then he wears his thickest shirt, and a pair of corduroy trousers. Then he puts on a sweater, a jacket and a monkey cap over his patka. Then he lowers the AC temperature as far as it will go and gets into bed, and waits for Udal to fall ill.

After five minutes Ponty is asleep. Udal wakes up and feels a bit cold. He turns off the AC. Then he looks at Ponty, sees the way he’s dressed, shakes his head sadly, and goes to sleep.

* * *

Udal is chatting with Ponty in the morning. “Plunkett has an inferiority complex,” he says, “and Vaughany has a superiority complex.”

“That’s nothing,” says Ponty. “My uncle in Ludhiana has a shopping complex.”

* * *

That morning when young Jamie and I are on our way to the stadium, we see Ponty on a stationary bicycle in the middle of the highway. We stop to say hello.

“Arre, stadium kahan hai?” he asks.

We point the way.

“Thanks,” he says, and starts cycling faster than ever.

* * * *

Somebody asks Ponty what his favourite TV show is. He says:

“Ponty Mython.”

* * *

Michael Vaughan decides that as this is a practice game, he wants to see both Udal and Ponty in action at the same time. He decides that they will bowl at the same time from the same end. He explains this to them.

“Shaun, you will bowl over the wicket,” he says, “and you, Ponty…”

“I know, I know,” says Ponty. “I will bowl under the wicket.”

* * *

Ponty, when tying his patka in the morning, accidently picks up a pink saree that happens to be lying around in the room, and uses that for his patka. Later in the day, he is fielding at midwicket, and a ball is hit past him towards the boundary. As he chases it, his patka starts unravelling. As he runs from midwicket to deep midwicket, a train of pink chiffon forms behind him.

* * *

Jamie and I are at a shopping complex in Alkapuri in Baroda when we come across a shop called Pinky’s. Instantly we call the Taj Hotel where Ponty is staying and give them a PR idea. The next morning, they conduct a special presentation for Ponty. They are going to unveil a painting for him, they say.

Duncan Fletcher goes backstage before the show to see what the painting is. They unveil it. It shows Ponty in a pink patka, and is titled, Ponty’s Pink Patka. “It alliterates, sir,” the PR manager explains. “A blogger gave us this idea.”

“But his name isn’t Ponty,” Fletcher points out. “It’s Monty.”

The hotel guys scratch their heads and call the painter. He changes the painting. They call it Monty’s Mink Matka, and also present him with a matka made of mink.

* * * *

Young Jamie, Ponty and I are strolling in the evening at Alkapuri when we see a store called “Aradhana Dresses.” Ponty gets very excited and rushes in. He looks here and there, almost jumping around. The storekeeper asks him what he wants.

“The sign outside said Aradhana Dresses,” Ponty says. “I’d really like to see her when she dresses. Please please please.”

* * *

Ponty enters a stationery shop with us and refuses to move.

* * *

Ponty drops us off to our hotel, and in the lobby, he sees a sign that says “Ladies.” Instantly he rushes in there. A manager rushes behind him and asks him what he wants.

“Ladies,” he says, sheepishly.

* * *

The next morning, because the Englishmen are a long way from home and some of them have started bothering Ponty, who at least has long hair, the families of the players join them. The team bus goes to the airport to get them, and brings them to the team hotel, where the team is waiting.

One by one the players’ wives and girlfriends emerge. Finally, at the end, emerges Ponty’s aunt from Patiala. (“Harvinder aunty!” he exclaims.) Then his uncle from Ludhiana. (“Harvinder uncle!”) Then his 16 cousins from Amritsar and his four grandparents from Bhatinda. And so on.

When all 29 have emerged from the bus, Ponty turns to Udal and says, “Mate, sorry, I forgot to make hotel bookings for them, they’ll be staying in our room.”

* * *

Ponty becomes a star in India, and gets an offer to play the lead role in a porn film. He accepts, rather excited at the idea.

“And what would you like to call yourself?” the director asks him. He replies:

“Pondy Manesar.”
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