April 18, 2018


Desmond Macedo

2011 was an especially good year to learn the meaning of the term pearly gates - so many famous people passed through them. 

Steve Jobs had just entered through them, and no sooner he landed in heaven than he summoned a meeting to design an iPod for God Who wanted to listen to tribal and aborigine music. Steve had arrived there on a Monday morning so everyone was ready for work, the tweets reported.

Two days earlier, Dev Anand, Indian matinee idol, had demised, though, I would’ve said “died,” but I had noticed in these months that famous people don’t die, they 'demise,' and Dev was now headed through those gates. Celeb writers-cum-tweeters said the moment he arrives he was going to assemble a film unit and commence shooting. 

Socrates was still fresh from demise, right on the field, so it would be a while before he passed through the gates, but fans had already tweeted the players he would put together to form an ex-Brazil team up there. 

Meanwhile, tweeters got news that God was not at all pleased with the iPod reproduction of tribal and aborigine music notes, so Steve had sent for help from Earth, preferably someone from in and around the Bangalore area of Earth, or even the Mumbai area of Earth, where there is talent for digital music production for films, which meant someone with knowledge of such music, and importantly, its electronic reproduction on an iPod, would soon pass through those gates, and tweeple ready with their posts, such as: Not a good time to know tribal and aborigine music, adapted for the iPod. A little later it surfaced that quite a few of the wanted specialists from both these areas shifted to Pune. Temporarily. 

Twitter had issued a strict directive to its users not to tweet until demise occurs. You see, people had gotten so accustomed to celeb departures, they were picking random names from lists, also appearing online to help them, and tweeting farewells. 

Around the middle of that year, MF Hussain, celebrated Indian painter, has demised in London, but there was some confusion whether he should start his heavenly journey from India, his place of birth, or from London where he demised, or from the Middle East country he adopted, or was forced to adopt – verily, it took quite some time to first determine whether he voluntarily adopted, or was forced to adopt the Middle East country. By the time the confusion was cleared people quite forgot that he had demised so no one tweeted anything about him. Besides, by then, people were busy tweeting about Shammi Kapoor - or were they tweeting about Pataudi?  - another matinee idol and celebrated Indian cricketer, respectively, or were they matinee cricketer and Indian nawab respectively, tweeple weren’t sure. 

While some industrious people put together the entire list of famous people who departed, others cautioned, ‘Hang on, there are some 25 days left this year.’ Six days after their caution, on Sunday, December 11, 2011, Mario Miranda, celebrated Indian cartoonist, featured in their tweets.

Of the number of famous people who demised that year, several had plans to continue their work upstairs. At least that is what the tweets said. People felt it was inappropriate that they, with their enormous energies, should rest at all, although, like earlier, if you died, or passed away, or demised, depending on your station in life, you were advised to Rest In Peace, RIP for short, which found more common usage in 2011, considering the number of times tweeters had to use it.

A few months into 2012, ‘St Peter keeps the pearly gates open,’ a Twitter post said, presenting more opportunity for people to learn the meaning of that term. One of my writer-friend did a status at Robin Gibbs' demise, which came a month or so after Whitney Houston's, which read: ‘The heavens are planning a super group like Traveling Wilburys.’

The trend didn’t stop and continued in the following years. At David Bowie’s demise, I, too, tweeted, ‘I always thought The Man Who Sold The World was a Kurt Cobain song. Now all three of us can rest in peace.’ And I posted it in the song's YouTube video’s comments’ box, where, some YouTube users thought it was a suicide note. 

Trouble was, only after celebs demised did you get to know their achievements. Reminded me, they were demising with such awkward frequency, obituaries began to read like dreary bio-datum, even by the NYT, and that’s where I read about The Man Who Sold The World.  

You may have known sweet buggerall about the celeb and his or her achievements, but social media had made it hip to tweet or update with RIP, sending out a message that you were ‘clued in.’ Internet society demanded that you be clued in, especially on the demise of a celeb. Hence the significant numbers from the subcontinent on Google searching ‘What is RIP?’

RIP was also a moment, or was it a medium? to send out a message about your musical preferences. When Dave Brubeck passed away, people, who otherwise listened to Boney M, tweeted respects furiously.   

Music has long been suspected to associate itself with listeners’ tastes, particularly the highbrow, in the way that books and authors manifest writers’ tastes. 

All bunk. I love the beat and bass of Daddy Cool. And Behram Contractor is among my favourite authors, of which, I have very few. Of course, it can be argued, I am hardly a writer, nor do I know my music. 

Kiss my arse.

When Glen Frey arrived at the gates St Peter was playing the infuriatingly famous riffs of Hotel California on an air guitar. Glen, it came to be believed, grabbed the air guitar from St Peter and played the notes for him as he began to sing the opening verse. 

‘The Super Group is formed,’ tweeple tweeted.

Next came Prince, which startled St Peter: ‘I didn’t call for you. People downstairs don’t even know how you have demised. Neither do I. Besides, very few know, you wrote Nothing Compares To You and the Esquire story is a long time away. So you're a bit unfulfilled for a stay in Heavan. Hope you accept that, and don't gripe.’ 

Last year, there was a series of suicides in the popular music business, but social media of extra enthusiasm did open up some new stuff for me – I still enjoy Linkin Park's Numb, In The End, and these lyrics: When my time comes / Forget the wrong that I've done / Help me leave behind some / Reasons to be missed.

And, as recent as a few months ago, Shashi Kapoor demised and Shashi Tharoor received the condolences.

‘Rather premature,’ Tharoor tweeted.