Saturday, January 12, 2013

Big mouth's retirement party

I used to love retirement parties. Years ago, when I was a rookie employee on my first job, people of my age group would ignore the messages that announced retirement parties. Initially, I couldn't care either, but one day, I walked right into a retirement party by mistake.

The audience, was mostly made up of old people. In fact, I was probably the only guy there without a strand of grey hair on my head.  They had many things to talk about. First, a bunch of people, who looked like they were getting ready to hang up their own boots, spoke. And then, the man of the hour rose, and said a few words. Everyone looked very gloomy. And then, right when I thought that the world was coming to an end since Joe was retiring, I saw that there was some hope. A sweet old lady stood up, and announced that there was ice cream for everyone.

What?! Free ice cream!!! And here I was, not aware of retiring Joes and free ice cream every now and then. And that too, just a short walk away from my office. If this was not known as hitting pay dirt, then what was?!

Soon, I became a regular at all the retirement parties. About fifty old ladies and gentlemen, and one twenty something guy, keeping an eye on the ice-cream in the back, was what you would find, if you walked in. But then, a nasty old man, who didn't seem to like me, discovered the reason I kept showing up. And so, one afternoon, after the twenty minutes of gloom, there was doom. The old man got up and announced that they were not able to arrange the ice cream that day. As I was walking out of the room, I saw him standing next to the door. As I walked past him, he whispered into my ears, "No more free ice cream! Kapeesh?"

The glory days of retiring Joes and free ice cream, were finally over.

Today, I read a strange piece of news. Mr. Big Mouth, the undisputed leader of the Somalian pirates, and the unchallenged ruler of the east African seas, after making his millions, is finally retiring. In case you don't know, yes, there are pirates in this century -- and yes, they too retire. Mr. Mouth, has been wide open in the last decade or so. So wide, that he seems to have gulped down millions in ransom from commercial ships that sail on the East African maritime routes. As shipping companies smartened up, they started relying more on armed guards and patrolling frigates, and less on insurance  companies to cough up the ransom payments. The ransom business dried up, and I am guessing that just when Mr. Mouth's financial adviser gave him the green signal, he decided to retire. A few years from now, if you care to look, you might find him in some Mediterranean paradise in a straw hat, sipping on his gin and tonic.

Just out of sheer Desi curiosity, I looked up Indian pirates. After all, who would not be interested in "Yo ho ho and a bottle of Daaru"? It seems that the glorious Indian pirate, Sumbhajee Angre, who was portrayed as the fearsome foe with the squeaky falsetto, in the famous movie, "The Pirates of the Caribbean", was indeed a historical figure. And so was his father, Kanhoji Angre, who was branded a pirate by the East India Company, and declared the chief of the navy at the same time by the Maratha empire. Strangely enough, about two hundred years ago, the Angre family ruled the same seas that the Somali pirates do today. If you draw a straight line from Mumbai to the gulf of Aden, you will see that as it makes landfall, it hits Mr. Big Mouth's country of origin, Somalia.

Sumbhajee Angre in "The pirates of the Caribbean."

I keep wondering, if our own Desi pirates, the father and son duo of the Angre family, had the tradition of retirement, and the parties that came with it. And, if they served ice cream at the end.   

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