The Penniless Pensioner: Misaligned, Maligned but Marvellous

Chapter One: My Distant Past

My father Paneer Gurdeep was born in some small remote village in India. Being a young man full of ambition he hustled the streets as a purveyor of mysticism. Put another way he dealt hashish from Kashmir to temples throughout the region to the mystics who became even more mystical after ingesting copious amounts of dope. The Holy Man was usually a very stoned man at least in our region. He managed to crawl out of a life of subsistence farming and onto the streets and slums of Bombay as it was called in those days. He peddled his dope to the unfortunate and to certain more decadent and adventurous Europeans living in Bombay. According to him opium was for the depraved and hashish for the enlightened. He made a very good living and employed sub dealers of the highest caste many university students and no lepers please. He greased the palms of law enforcement if such a concept of law or enforcement of it existed in Bombay. He had a modest house with servants and his neighbours had no idea of the wares Paneer was selling mostly because he had underlings to do the dirty work.

My dad was a handsome man but wanted no part of an arranged marriage and the suffocating presence of a mother-in-law. Not only that he hated Indian food and preferred steak and kidney pie over tandoori and curry. It so happened he frequented clubs where the colonist’s sought entertainment and cheap Indian whisky. In The Blue Magnolia club he fell for Juanita Wallabong a Welsh singer who at that time had a rather poor talent to sing the American blues. Juanita had flaming red hair which was a magnet for my father. Although a performer Juanita had horrific anxiety and tanked up on far too much gin before her performances. Some nights she had the voice of Billie Holiday and others not much of a voice. Well dear old dad fell like a ton of bricks for Juanita and her red hair (which was dyed).

Well this and that lead to more this and that and finally to marriage. My father persuaded Juanita to give up live performances and instead record in the studio that my dad bought for her. She perfected a new style of blues called” Bombay Blues”. She had several hits in Europe and the United States and really cleaned up her bottle consumption. Thank goodness as I was born in 1959 on a Punjab Air Flight from Memphis to Bombay and the last thing I needed was fetal alcohol poisoning.

As a bundle of joy I was brought back to our now very swank quarters in the colonial quarter of Bombay. Dear Dad had long ago “sold” his dope business to the Dean of the Bombay School of Law and had taken up gold mining!

Published by Robert K Stephen (CSW)

Robert K Stephen writes about food ,drink, travel, film, and lifestyle issues. He also has published serialized novels "Life at Megacorp", "Virus # 26, "Reggie the Egyptian Rescue Dog" and "The Penniless Pensioner" Robert was the first associate member of the Wine Writers’ Circle of Canada. He also holds a Mindfulness Certification from the University of Leiden and the University of Toronto. Be it Spanish cured meat, dried fruit, BBQ, or recycled bamboo place mats, Robert endeavours to escape the mundane, which is why he has established this publication. His motto is, "Have Story, Will Write."

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