Behram Contractor, the creator of ´Busybee´ and all his ficticious characters wrote this satirical column, everyday, for 36 consecutive years and over four newspapers.
Here is a comment on the great writer by Anil Dharker.
"You and I will tell the same joke in more or less the same way, whereas neither you nor I will ever be able to write like Busybee."
These columns first appeared in the Afternoon Despatch & Courier, the newspaper founded by Farzana and Behram Contractor on March 25, 1985. www.busybeeforever.com
Drink a Little ‘Haldi’ in Milk!
With everyone down and out, with fever, cold and cough and the dread of the swine flu virus prevalent in the air, it seemed only appropriate to dig this piece out when Busybee was down and out and well-wishers told him what to do to get better
Many years ago, in a Mickey Spillane book, I read about a ‘tongue feeling like the bottom of a parrot’s cage’. This morning, my tongue feels a little like that. And my throat is a municipal drain and nose a dripping tap.
I do not know whether to go to a doctor or a vet (since a parrot’s cage is involved). On second thought, I will stick to a Crocin or a Codopirin, or both. (“Raju, yeh kya haal kar diya? Codopirin lee?”) Because a doctor will put me on a five-day course of antibiotics, at the end of which my cold will be better by 50 percent, but my head will feel like it has been put in a bottle of vinegar, which has been placed on a table, and an earthquake simulated to shake it up.
Colds attack me three times a year (twice in good years), and each time they last a month and a half, from the first sniffle to the complete clearing of the chest. Hence, if you calculate, for four and a half months of a year, I am fighting a cold, or, more appropriately, succumbing to it.
Not that I allow myself to succumb to it. I carry on my day-to-day activities with handkerchiefs and tissues and occasionally a towel, and I eat ginger in various forms, including ginger candies, a sort of a
Julep, and I switch over from whisky to brandy, though not with warm water, ugh.
Drink does clear the cold, I am convinced of that. Or, at least, it clears the nose and the throat and makes the head lighter. But that is while I am in the process of drinking. The next morning the head feels heavier than ever, and the nose seems blocked with unremovable rubber stoppers.
Friends also often give me their mothers’ and grandmothers’ antidotes for cold. It is amazing, I would have never thought the mothers and grandmothers of so many of my friends were doctors, and in that age. Unfortunately, my mother did not supply me with any antidote, so I have to depend on other people’s mothers.
Put a teaspoon of haldi in a little warm milk and drink. I did and I choked. Boil eucalyptus leaves in hot water, sit next to the boiling water, head and vessel of boiling water covered in a thick blanket, and inhale, exhale, inhale, exhale. I did and got burnt. Put this little packet underneath your pillow tonight and sleep, in the morning your cold would have disappeared. Do not open the packet, throw it in the sea the following day. I took the packet from the friend, because I did not want to hurt his feelings, and threw it in the garbage can.
Now, when I am in the middle of another bout of cold, I wonder whether my rudely discarding the magic potion in the garbage can has got anything to do with this. Father, forgive me. Or mother of the friend who supplied the potion, forgive me.
August 3, 1998
To Spit or Not to Spit
The one agenda on the PMs plan for the country we are very happy about is the Swach Bharat. For that itself we would like to pat Mr Narendra Modi’s back. Way back when sheriff Nana Chudasama issued a fatwa against spitting, this is what came out of Busybee’s head...
By now everybody is aware that Bombay is observing an Anti-Spitting Week. Thousands of schoolboys have been instructed by Mr Nana Chudasama to go about the city, catch people who are spitting and request them not to do so.
My two sons, Darryl and Derek, are among the schoolboys who have voluntereed to do this job. Through the week, they have been trying to find spitters. Not having succeeded, yesterday they came to me and said: “Why don’t you spit?”
“What do you mean, why don’t I spit!” I said. “I don’t spit, I don’t eat Paan Parag like Shammi Kapoor, so how do you expect me to spit.”
“If you do not spit, we cannot instruct you not to spit,” Darryl said. “Then how can we do our job and report back to Mr Chudasama.”
“I do not care how you report back to Mr Chudasama, but I am not going to spit so that you can tell me off,” I said. “Long before your Mr Chudasama became sheriff, I was taught not to spit in public. In any case, who is he to tell me to spit or not to spit, he is not the sheriff any more. Tell him to go paint some walls.
“He is not telling you not to spit, we are telling you,” Derek said. “In fact, we are telling you to spit, so that we can tell you not to.”
“This is getting to be confusing and I don’t want to have anything to do with it,” I said. “If I don’t want to spit, I will not spit and nobody can tell me to spit.”
“But we are telling you not to spit,” Darry said. Mr Chudasama told us that when children tell elders what a bad and dirty habit it is to spit, then the elders feel ashamed of themselves and stop spitting.”
“I don’t feel ashamed about anything,” I said. “This is our city and we have a right to spit in it. If the sheriff thinks he cannot make Bombay beautiful if people spit in it, then that is too bad.”
“The sheriff says everybody should be proud of their city and make it beautiful during this week,” Derek said.
“I don’t think the sheriff has any locus standi to make these statements,” I said. “The mayor is quite right when he says that the sheriff post should be abolished. Then children won’t go about ordering adults, telling them when to spit, when not to spit.”
“The sheriff says, if the mayor spits, we should tell him also not to spit,” Darryl said.
“I can see a major controversy starting over that,” I said. “And I do not want my children to be involved in that.”
Derek said. “Tell us for the last time, you are not going to spit.”
“I definitely am not,” I said.
“Then here is your free ticket to attend the Bappi Lahiri show at Shivaji Park,” Derek said. “It is open only to non-spitters.”
November 29, 1992
Terrorists Are Cowards
With the terrorism onslaught continuing unabated, the world over, we picked this beautiful piece where Busybee condemns these despicable, inhuman beings, calling them sneaks who, like thieves at night, work under the cover of darkness and disappear like cowards
Terrorists, essentially, are cowards. They do not fight soldiers, policemen, armed men, they attack the unarmed, the helpless, the private citizens. They kill indiscriminately, women, children, old men, school teachers, farm labourers. People who are not a party to their wars, people whose death is not going to advance their cause one tiny bit.
Terrorists are people who do not fight in the open, in broad daylight. They are not tigers of war, guerrillas, men who would fight and die for a cause. They are sneaks, like thieves of the night, working under the cover of darkness, attacking and killing innocent and unarmed wayfarers, families sleeping in their homes, then disappearing back into the night.
I have no respect for them. They lack all ethics, morality, sense of justice and fair play. They do not kill indiscriminately, they kill with great planning and deliberation, picking only those people who cannot retaliate. Families with new-born babies, children who have just started going to school, men who have never owned a firearm in their lives nor thought they would ever need one.
They choose their targets with great care. Not those who they imagine have done them injustice and harm, not those who expect to be attacked and take care of themselves, not anybody where there is a chance of a battle, of bullets being fired back at them. These targets they leave to the fanatics, the misguided.
Their own targets they pick with great care. Buses passing through the night on lonely roads, marriage parties, families which have no security cordon around their house. They approach their unsuspecting victims, empty their guns into them, then run away. Not exactly the bravest men in the world, not even the bravest terrorists.
In daylight, when a search is on for them, they hide in villages, holding the villagers as hostages, they conceal themselves in religious centres. Or they cross the border and hide in neighbouring unfriendly countries.
By now they must have killed, hundreds, thousands of people. People who were never parties to their dispute. They have killed young and old alike, and people of all sects, communities, religions. And a large number have died because of their actions in retaliation for their own killings by people who are as guilty as the terrorists themselves. Everything that everybody has done has led to more killings. When the BJP calls a bandh in protest of killings by terrorists, it signs the death warrant of a few score who will be killed during the bandh.
I cannot advise the government on what it should do. If I had the authority, I would send the army in, move it in a long chain, mile by mile, flush out every terrorist and either kill him or drive him into the next country. Then seal the border with Pakistan.
July 9, 1987
He was a politician to the core, says Busybee, of Murli. And essentially a Bombay politician, which is different from others of their ilk. Both men were fond of each other, and now both are no more. We are certain they have met up, over a drink; a scotch and a nimboo pani!
Is Murli Deora finished with Bombay? I doubt it. But in the BRCC, his bouncing, bustling personality will be missed. Having lost his parliament seat, he still continued to represent Bombay as BRCC president. Now he has resigned from that. His only credentials to continue to represent Bombay now will be his personality, and his identity with the city.
And there is total identity with the city. A Murli Deora could only be created by a city like Mumbai (a name, incidentally, that he changed from Bombay, not Mr Manohar Joshi as is widely believed). Delhi could throw up an H K L Bhagat, and Calcutta a Mani Kaul or a Satyajit Ray, but only Mumbai could produce Murli Deora.
He epitomises the spirit of Bombay. Comfortable in social and political circles, hosting a party at the Breach Candy Swimming Club and presiding over a meeting in the BRCC outhouses on Azad Maidan, attending board room meetings and visiting victims of fires in his old Muslim constituencies off
He is a politician to the core, and a Congressman at that, but a Bombay politician. No khadi kurtas, no Gandhi cap, always a suit, shirts selected by wife Hema. And talking in his own brand of English, a vocabulary full of friendly swear words. Friend of all, the press (from the late Ramnath Goenka, his bridge partner, to junior reporters), opposition politicians, businessmen, labour leaders. No, perhaps not labour leaders. Moving in the most sophisticated company, but a teetotaler and a vegetarian, eating Marwari lunch, sent by a different bhabhi every afternoon.
He is a typical Bombay rags-to-riches story, or, at least, middle-class from Marwari Vidhyalaya to riches and considerable political clout. Like most city politicians, including the present chief minister and most of his deputies, he began in the municipal corporation, became a mayor, then moved on. Not many people know, and this is not because of any reticence on Mr Deora’s part, but the city’s filteration plant and much of its water supply development is due to him when he was in the corporation and a mayor.
As mayor, he went to the US and initiated several deals for the city’s civic amenities, and the contacts have continued since then. Visiting American Congressmen and Washington officials all pay courtesy calls on Mr Deora, and their wives are taken out shopping by Mrs Deora or hosted a lunch at China Garden.
He has also had a long innings in parliament and significantly from the South Bombay constituency. He has not become a minister, but that’s for Delhi and UP politicians, Mr Deora, as I said, is a Bombay politician. And he is not yet finished, not by a long shot.
February 26, 1997