Bartender: What would you like to drink?
Lakhnavi: Thank you for asking, sir. I’ll drink whatever you have yourself.
Bartender: Thanks, but I’m serving at the bar. I can’t drink while I’m working.
Lakhnavi: Then I’ll wait until you get done to have my first sip.
Bartender: My shift doesn’t end until after midnight!
So, the Lakhnavi waits patiently until after midnight for the bartender to get off duty to buy him his first drink. He finishes his drink, they have a few more together, and then he heads home. He has a hard time waking up the next morning and is late for work.
He enters the building where his office is located, nods with a flourish at the security guard and heads for the elevator (or what is known in the homeland as a lift). Since no one else is around when he arrives he pushes the “up” bottom and enters the elevator. Unfortunately, other employees start to enter the building at random intervals just after he enters it. The Lakhnavi patiently holds the door of the elevator open as one by one, other tardy employees enter. He asks the employees what floors they need and pushes the buttons graciously. Since no one asks for the floor he wants, the poor fellow goes to the top of the building where employees are waiting to go to the lower floors. He smiles again and pushes all the buttons for everyone.
On the bottom floor of the building another Lakhnavi enters and they both greet each other ostentatiously.
Lakhnavi 1: How do you do?
Lakhnavi 2: No, how do you do?
Lakhnavi 1: No, no… how do you do?
Lakhnavi 2: Your servant begs you respond: how do you do?
By this time, the elevator door has shut and neither has pushed any buttons so it goes back up to the top floor where another group of passengers embark. One of the passengers enters and pushes a button. Realizing that they are now horribly late for work, both Lakhnavis begin to panic. The elevator arrives at the fourth floor and everyone else disembarks.
Lakhnavi 1: After you sir…
Lakhnavi 2: No sir, I cannot exit before you.
Lakhnavi 1: You first, sir, your servant insists. Besides we are both late for work.
Lakhnavi 2: Sir, I cannot. But I do not wish this dark mark upon your flawless character. I will commit the grave offense of getting out of the elevator first, but only under the condition that you will grace your humble servant’s abode for a poor cup of brew which he has the impudence to call tea.
Lakhnavi 1: I acquiesce under the condition that you accept an audacious whim of your servant that you graciously leave the fragrance of your spirit in his dwelling too.
Both finally get out of the elevator and walk in opposite directions bowing to each other though neither actually works on the fourth floor.
That evening, the two Lakhnavis end up meeting again. After extended courtesies, the two men begin to discuss poetry, literature, and music. The topic of music strikes a proverbial chord among them and they soon find that both are accomplished musicians. Because neither will sing first, both start singing a jugalbandi.
Lakhnavi 1: Jhoom Barabar!
Lakhnavi 2: Jhoom..
Lakhnavi 1: Barabar…
Lakhnavi 2: Jhoom…
Both expert musicians continue their vocal calisthenics but neither is willing to break off the loop out of fear of insulting the other by ending the tarana abruptly. Dusk gives way to dawn. The two Lakhnavis can hardly speak but they continue to sing. Early in the morning the first Lakhnavi collapses out of sheer exhaustion and is whisked away to the hospital. Later the other Lakhnavi comes to meet his friend there.
Lakhnavi 2: I regret from the core of my being that this misfortune occurred in my lowly presence. Sir, how you do you feel now?
Lakhnavi 1: Barabar.
Text: © 2010-2012, Anirban