Thoughts & Ideas

Monday, September 16, 2013

Kursela Days 5 – Diggy’s Pad


Two days after I landed in Purnea, one evening, one of my senior colleagues (Digvijay Pratap Singh – popularly referred to as Diggy, by friends and foes alike - though I don't think he had any foes) came over to the hotel where I was put up and admonished me with the statement, “Why are you staying at this hotel, don't you know I have a house here”. I hardly knew him and before I could think of anything or stammer a reply, he informed me that he had instructed the hotel reception to prepare my bills and that I should pack up and shift to his house pronto, no questions asked. I had a lot of misgivings in making this change, but it looked that I had no option. 

This is Diggy Singh

Diggy used to run an open house for directly recruited officers in Purnea, most of whom were bachelors. It took me a couple of days to get used to the atmosphere of the place, basically since all the other inhabitants (2 – 3 permanent members and a floating population of another 3 – 5) seemed to have a single point programme in life - to get gloriously drunk every evening. As a teetotaler, I used to be mortally afraid of people who drank liquor. But, I give full credit to Diggy that not once in our nearly 25 year association has he ever forced me to consume liquor. The offer is always open, but there has never been any kind of insistence or even cajoling. The group was a little surprised to know that I did not drink liquor, but in a week’s time we got used to each other’s idiosyncrasies and I started enjoying their company. Funnily enough I discovered that I did not require to consume alcohol to shed the inhibitions that prevented these poor guys to discover and enjoy life.  This gave birth to the joke – Sushil Prasad does not need liquor to stay high!


Diggy's Friends - Getting Drunk

Diggy had a fully furnished large three bed roomed house, and since the rest of the company got busy getting drunk every evening, I took the responsibility of cooking dinner. It was initially to escape from the drinking cohort, but slowly I started enjoying it. The kitchen was just about functional with all basic utensils and I soon built up a reputation of a good cook. Breakfast invariably consisted of eggs and bread, and dinner of rice with razma. However, over time we started cooking a range of dishes, of which my Chinese noodles were a big hit.

About a month later I shifted to Kursela, but a couple of my batch mates continued to stay with Diggy and I also used to visit and stay at his house on weekends. What a glorious time we had! Endless discussions on every subject under the sun and the moon, the tricks of surviving in SBI, personal exploits etc. etc. Much later in life, I was able to identify myself immediately with the persons, life, and times described by Steinbeck in Cannery Row and Sweet Thursday with the company I had at Diggy’s house.

Living with Diggy was a unique experience in some ways. One peculiarity which warrants mention was his instruction that we were not to open any of the windows at any time. This was extremely strange to start with, but we did not question it on account of respect to our host. We did not want to displease him on any account as there was no other more comfortable place to stay in Purnea. It took us a couple of weeks to come to know the rationale for this fiat. With three young highly eligible bachelors living in the neighbourhood there was no shortage of nice young ladies parading every morning, evening, and afternoons on the road in front of the house. Diggy on the other hand was mortally afraid of our having any kind of dalliance with these lovely ladies, for firstly, since it would affect his reputation and secondly, there was a risk that our landlady might get displeased and terminate the lease and finding another nice house would be difficult!

The house was a two storied affair located in Purnea’s poshest locality, Navratan Hata, set in a large compound. While Diggy (and us) lived on the ground floor, the first floor was occupied by the landlord and his family. I have very little recollection of the landlord, but remember his wife and children well, with whom we were on good terms. The sons (two) studied in places other than Purnea, and came back home only on their vacations. Of the two daughters, the elder was of marriageable age and a little shy. The younger who had just passed her school was friendly. Though the most friendly was the landlady who went out of her way to see that we were comfortable and helped us in various little ways. 

 The Entrance to Diggy's Pad

1 Comments:

  • At 9:07 AM , Anonymous Vikas Ranjan said...

    Sushil, I was a 'floating guest' of Diggy too. But that was during my Agri Branch training at Madhepura. Incidentally in your first photo you have Amrit Lal, who also was a teetotaler and a vegetarian to boot.

    Incidentally Diggy is now here in Delhi.

     

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