That elusive name game


Published: Thu 15 Oct 2020, 1:00 PM

Last updated: Thu 15 Oct 2020, 3:49 PM

You might identify with this. You are lying in bed at night, Morpheus is doing the dirty on you and sleep is forty thousand winks away, and you suddenly think okay, what was the name of the manager in Airport, the movie, played by Burt Lancaster.
Now, in the great scheme of things, such trivia is of no importance. Utterly without consequence but still so vital. It changes nothing, but our lives are spun around trivia and this awake-at-night scenario is irresistible. You just fall into the trap.
Of course, there is an easy way out of it and that is to Google the name of the movie and presto, you have the answer. Then you can wrestle back to sleep.
See how it works. These search engines have taken away all the wonderful stress and tension and misery of not being able to recollect the name of someone's wife, some shop, some author, anything at all. There was a time one would lie there at night, racking one's brains, because there was no way you'd get that elusive gush of relief and peace of mind till that final piece of the puzzle got off the tip of your tongue and snuggled into your mind. A trivial pursuit became an obsession.
Also, checking it out is against the spirit of the whole thing and you just do not cheat. It is no fun doing the trivia torture if you are going to hit the keyboard.
So there I am, tossing in bed thinking, Robert, Peter, Albert, a scatter of names and it is uncanny but in this self-inflicted sport we all engage in, you know immediately when you have the right one and now it is two in the morning and I am writhing in mental agony, is it Steven, Sebastian, Samuel, so I shake my wife awake and say, what was Burt Lancaster's name in Airport, the book by Arthur Hailey.
It's two in the morning?
I know the time, but I need to know the name.
Have you lost it, go to sleep or leave the room.
Rupert, Roger, Brian, none of them fit the bill. My friend Mani is an aviation doctor and he is also a movie buff and lives in Hyderabad, so I call him and I say hi, sorry to wake you up but what was Burt Lancaster's name in Airport.
Who is that?
It's me, friend of my youth, give me the name.
Do you know it is nearly three in the morning?
Why does everyone keep telling me the time, just give me the answer.
Have you gone completely bananas, even Burt doesn't care, there is no conceivable reason why you should need to know this at three in the morning but, for old times' sake, it is Malcolm Makersfield, now shut up and put the phone down.
Some friend, right. Got it. Got it. Phew. But the phew hasn't got enough power in it. Something is not right. It isn't Malcolm, I am not getting that happy feeling of accomplishment, when it is right on. That 'got it' feeling when it fits into the slot, like a jigsaw piece that was elusive or the jumbled nine letter word in City Times.
Now, it is getting so baaaaad even Google is tempting. The sun is carving itself on the edge of the window and the first rays are dripping into the room and old bleary-eyed sleepy man has still not got it solved. Come on, Dean Martin, you were the captain, help, help.
Finally, as the sun comes up and you are all gooey-eyed with sleep, you surrender in abject relief and check Google and you get 9,996 hits saying Mel Bakersfeld.

By bikram vohra

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