Precious III: Lawyer Lawyer Lipstick

May 2014 spelled a new phase of my life in Bombay. Suddenly, the focus of my social existence shifted from Engineers, MBAs and PR people, to Pilots, Doctors and Lawyers. I seem to bump into a hell of a lot of the penguins especially.

A few weeks after a most surprising and enjoyable first rendezvous with a couple of them at a dance after-party following a singles meetup (I was signed up for it, for heaven's sake! Really, you think I went to one of my own volition?!), I ended up having a most engaging conversation with yet another at a gymkhana gathering to which I was invited by a friend. Amidst all the chatter about football, common friends, and a LOT of swearing, this gentleman - let's call him The New Precious - mentioned arbitration. Now unlike all the arbitrary cock (ahem) and bull that goes around on all our screens and stages, this one actually made some sense. Drunken stupor and Friday evening notwithstanding, I finally met someone who was as passionate and proud of what he did as the people I adore the most.

Precious-the-Latest (PtL, going further) has changed the course of his career more than once.

While he began with banking - selling accounts to HNIs across the length and breadth of Bombay, he moved to selling tin plate as partner in a friend's firm and even corrugated cardboard products and packaging soon after. Needless to say, success was his to play with. But among the many things I've known about PtL in the past (close to) two years, it is not repeating a pattern that excites him. Ambitious to the point of seeming to spread himself thinner than he can afford, PtL wants more constantly.

He can appear almost jobless (like the first time I met him and lived in the assumption for the next three months), because that's the way he's wired. He thrives on the challenge of citing precedent, while his thoroughness with the law books comes handy.

In a recent meandering post-dinner chat with the young advocate at a south Bombay restaurant, the conversation veered to the skyline of this enchanting part of the city. If you climbed to the terrace or even a high enough storey of any of 'Bombay's' buildings, you'd witness a cluster of some of the most remarkable edifices and a host of shimmery lights. And whether you have Eros Cinema, Flora Fountain, the Oval Maidan, or the Ravissant in your purview at the fore, a significant part of the backdrop is the Bombay High Court.

Much like this hogging of the skyline, practitioners of law cannot be ignored either, wherever you go in ‘town’. The phenomenon is fed by the presence of the TADA Court, Custom Excise & Service Tax Appellate Tribunal, Special Court, Bombay High Court and City Civil and Sessions Court buildings dotting the stretch from Worli, right up to Fort.

As if to mirror this concentration of law professionals in the vicinity, lawyers themselves lead a rather immersive existence. You’d imagine their lives end at knowing the law in theory – at most the years and years of applying those laws. However, as is the rue of many who come at cross hairs with crime and punishment, the law is open to interpretation; the words, yielding to the user’s purpose. As PtL puts it, “The amount of reading is exhaustive. Even a measly order can serve as a significant precedent. A lawyer can never know it all, yet must endeavour constantly to get there.”

Since there is no way for lawyers to publicise their wares, the best law practitioners are known first by their 'hit' rate. But that't not all that they're known for. While previous generations have produced polo champions, social reformers, freedom fathers, ecology conservators, ace pianists and Everesters, along with courtroom drama of the triumphant, PtL also regales me with stories of how he unwinds. Recreation to the him is as immersive as his occupation.

A man of varied interests, one spots him at his childhood friend's apartment complex dribbling a ball to its basket, or at another pal's beating or beaten to a high octane virtual game of FIFA. In the maximum city, where glamour rules the roost, he is not untouched by films, for he much spend at least a third of his monthly wages on late-night shows to the latest releases. He is happy to tag along to catch the latest in the art district with the girlfriend, and excited about a new eatery in town.

And when popular culture gets his goat, he suggests in his powdery baritone, "Let's catch a play this Sunday?"

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