There’s a pub called the Marquis of Lansdowne in East London which I used to frequent each week. As it was next to my art studio at the time, it became a meeting place for clients and friends and its where I discovered that not answering a question can be sometimes be a polite gesture. Well that’s what Mahesh Navani taught me anyway.
A grotty Victorian building, the pub is situated in the epicenter of trendy Dalston, but is unconcerned with its appearance or beers on tap. Not a single IPA nor a rustic vintage chair in sight. “This is a proper pub” said Mahesh as I overheard his conversation to his friend one Friday night. He was setting up the DJ equipment ready to play out for the evening.
The place was slowly filling up whilst I sat with my phone and pint waiting for a friend to show up. As usual he was late, so I had a little time on my hands. Nervously scanning the room as I sometimes did when I was feeling slightly awkward, I made eye contact with Mahesh and he gave that casual nod of the head. The one where you quickly tilt it back in recognition of someone you don’t really know. I pulled my pint up to signal back but immediately felt stupid and scornfully criticized myself for perhaps appearing a little ´try hard´.
back to my phone and the article I was reading in the Guardian, I soon forgot
about my awkwardness and the fact my friend was nearly an hour late. Brexit is
such a fixture in the broad sheets that its daily coverage starts to read as a
soap opera and as such its rather engrossing.
¨It’s Dan isn’t it? ¨ A voice said over my head. It was Mahesh.
¨Yeah… how’s it going? ¨ I replied.
Apparently, Mahesh knew of me from a mutual acquaintance at the pub and decided to introduce himself to me. ¨I’ve seen your art. Really cool mate! Fancy a beer? ¨
The slow pint I had been nursing was at its dregs and I had a thirst. Gladly accepting the kind gesture, Mahesh quickly returned from the bar with 2 beers, plonking one in front of me and sitting down. ¨I got a few minutes before I’m to start. ¨
I asked him what he was going to play that night and he kindly ignored the question by asking what I would like to hear. I thought to myself this might be the only time that ignoring someone’s question was kind of nice and I forgot to consider my response so my reply wasn’t really accurate to what I might like to hear. Rap music was something I genuinely enjoyed but it was far from what I wanted to hear. In fact, I was rather enjoying the sound of my thoughts and hum of the conversations around me that I wasn’t really in the mood for anything that would interfere with that.
We spoke for a little while about the merits of Grime as an evolution from Hip Hop and he mentioned how he had seen my work in a recent article and wanted to introduce himself. He was a budding artist too and I think he wanted to make a professional connection.
A strange joke
After a half of his beer was consumed, Mahesh rose to his feet to resume his post at the decks and started with ´Panic´ by The Smiths. ´That’s not Hip Hop ´I thought and as soon as I was reconsidering the merits of ignoring questions, he quickly switched the cross fader to those infamous strings on ´Forget about Dre´ by Dr Dre and I looked over to him out of curiosity. He hung his head to the left with his right hand clasped above it mimicking a hangman’s noose. ¨Hang the DJ indeed! ¨ I thought to myself and laughed. I held my fresh pint up to him in recognition. I didn’t feel like a try hard anymore.