Kersi Gandhi ExCampionite class of '59
It's about 0238 in the morning, and sleep is eluding me. Listening to music on the Telly. Aishwarya Rai is dancing to the number, 'Crazy Kiya Re.' My mind transverses to Bombay of 1955 to 1960. Colaba was inhabited by the Anglo Indians, Jews, Parsees, Sindhis and the Maharashtrians. And the women were so very beautiful. It was sheer bliss to be a teenager of that era.
Adjacent to The Taj Mahal Hotel was The Northcote Nursing Home on one side and The Greens Hotel, on the other. At eight in the evening, the Street Walkers would parade on the pavement of The Northcote Nursing Home, and display their wares, dressed in their sartorial best. The going rate in those days was a measly Ten Rupees and most of the Women were Anglo Indian. And were they beautiful!!! Each one surpassed the other in beauty, elan, panache and good looks.
I must have been about fourteen years of age. I was a Master at riding the Triumph Tiger 100 Motorcycle. I remember this one incident so very clearly. The memories of it are still so vivid in my mind. I approached a Woman named Banoo and asked her if she fancied a spin on my Motorcycle. She walked up to me, and this is what she said. ' Kersi, why don't you EVANESCE from here, and return when you are a year older.' I was humiliated, and took off on The Tiger, like a scalded cat. I had no idea what evanesce meant and had to look up the meaning in a dictionary.
I remember an Anglo Indian lad, named, Kenny Gustad. He had a beautiful looking Girlfriend, Lorraine Wright, from Byculla. She was an absolute stunner. It was her passion to be taken for a ride on a Motorcycle. Kenny would plead with me to take her for a spin, and I would willingly oblige. She had a penchant for speed. I remember putting the Tiger through its paces, around The Oval Maidan, with Lorraine riding pillion. Round the turns, the silencer would be scraping the road, and sparks would be flying out in the air. And guess what Lorraine would say, 'Kersi, can't you go any faster.'
From what I have heard, Kenny and Lorraine both went to the United Kingdom, and were married out there.
On Arthur Bunder Road, was The Ideal Restaurant, owned by an Irani, Muhammed Hussain Deghani. It was our home away from home. Even if we were stone broke, our credit was good out there. Muhammed Hussain was an extremely strong Irani Gentleman. Kenny Gustad was extremely scrawny and lean. Muhammed Hussain must have been at least ten years older than us. David Sardi and myself were the only two who were stronger than him.
One day all us lads put together a collection of Rupees Two Hundred. We all collectively decided that Muhammed Hussain had to be taken for a ride, as he used to continuously throw his Irani Lineage, in our faces. I was elected as the one to convince Muhammed Hussain to take up a wager.
I went to Muhammed Hussain and said that Kenny had stated he could beat Muhammed Hussain, in running a hundred metres. I convinced him that what chance had that Anglo Indian against this blue blooded Irani. He took up the challenge and put up his part of the Two Hundred Rupees, with the words, ' Kersi, you hold onto the money, as I don't trust that scrawny Anglo Indian p---k.
We all assemble at the restaurant, one evening. It is decided that the race would be run from the lamppost in front of the Restaurant, to the third lamppost. Muhammed Hussain is wearing his sneakers, whilst Kenny adorns a pair of flip flops. The race is to be run from East to West. Muhammed Hussain gets into position, with his back to The Radio Club. Kenny on the other hand is facing Radio Club. Muhammed Hussain rebukes Kenny by telling him that he is facing the wrong way. Kenny tells him to mind his own business.
On your marks, get set and go. The race is afoot. Kenny runs backwards and snaps his fingers at Muhammed Hussain, as if he was calling his pet dog. Kenny is the victor by a distance. Muhammed Hussain has been brought down a couple of notches.
What Muhammed Hussain did not know was that Kenny Gustad was The Tata Sports Champion, for Bombay State, in the hundred metres, long jump and the high jump. In other words, he was the best sprinter in India, at that juncture of time.
A year or maybe another six months later, it was Banoo who propositioned me to go for a ride with her, at one in the morning, not on the Tiger 100, but in a Taxi.