Category Archives: Nostalgia

Once Upon A Time…


Kids

Once upon a time…

You hated being called a kid, but everyone loved you for that.

Play time was outside the house.

TV time was on Wednesdays and Fridays to watch Chitrahaar.

You only got to watch cartoons on Doordarshan on Sunday morning.

You loved to tear the blue inland letters for your grandparents, and prided yourself in doing it clean.

You could do absolutely anything, for absolutely anything that tasted sweet.

Getting to sit behind Dad, in the back seat of a scooter, was nothing less than a privilege.

Two milk powder tins, connected with a thread, was the coolest phone you knew.

Getting to watch a movie after 10 in the night was something to brag about to your friends for months.

The only remote controlled vehicle you had, was called a ‘Kite’.

Your biggest fights were with your brother/sister.

The biggest fights you fought, were for your brother/sister.

You were proud to say that you wanted to be a Police Officer.

Sleep was not a problem and you slept like a log whenever you wanted to.

Back aches and muscle pains were only after wrestling the kid from the nearby colony who broke your cricket bat.

At birthday parties, you ate more icing than cake.

You hated shopping for clothes.

your handheld video game, was filled with water and had small plastic balls that had to be put into baskets, by pressing a small button which pumped air.

Mithun Chakraborthy and Govinda were your favorite actors.

You did not care who the actress was.

You believed in Magic.

You believed in Ghosts.

You thought the old, night watchman of the nearby bungalow was one.

You hated Doctors.

You wanted window seats in absolutely any form of transportation you travelled in.

Travelling in an airplane was a once in a lifetime dream.

You saved every paise you could get, to buy a 50 paise chewing gum and collected the small thumbsize card inside them.

A lady teacher, no matter how old she was, was called ‘Miss’.

You hated your Maths Miss.

The best special effects you knew, were in Ramayan or Mahabharat on Doordarshan on Sunday.

There was a TV called Solidaire.

Reality shows were silly dances and skits done in school during a function, or in your colony during the New Year’s eve.

You could crash your cycle with a thud between the legs of your neighbor Uncle, and still be called for Dinner at their home.

You could get away with absolutely anything naughty.

You thought that sharpening a pencil without breaking the shaving was an art.

The only meetings you attended was to decide who would go an fetch the ball that landed at that ever-angry Aunty’s house.

An emergency was when that ball would break her glass window.

The only time you wanted money was when your friends were collecting 1 Rupee each for buying a new ball.

Grown-ups, apart from parents and teachers were of 2 types – Uncles/Aunties, Thatha/Paati-s (Dada/Dadi-s).

You looked at grown-ups and wanted to be one as early as possible.

You grew up and realized what an idiot you were to wish for something like that, and spent Children’s Day writing or reading something like this…

HAPPY CHILDREN’S DAY

GrowingUp

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The Lamp Post on the 21st Street


The Lamp Post on the 21st Street

Braving the World, showing time the way,
Watching over them all like a Sheriff on beat.
The provenance of light in this bustling turf,
I am the Lamp Post on the 21st Street.

Countless winters, I’ve seen pass by me,
I’ve beheld this land through a well lit flame.
A thousand moons ago they set me here first,
I was similar to others, but I wasn’t the same.

Lined up in splendid array, my brothers and Me,
We guarded the nights with a twinkle in our eyes.
Forged out of the finest metals, we stood tall,
But time whithered most of us to our sad demise.

But I’ve stood through it as I saw the others fall,
Some crumbling to rust, some being uprooted out,
To make way for the future we were renounced to scrap,
Tucked away in a corner, lucky I wasn’t in progress’ route.

I’ve seen this prized land changing hands amongst kings,
I’ve seen tyranny, I’ve seen blood color my feet red.
Cries for freedom replaced by songs of incessant joy,
I’ve been the hub of festivities when the tyrants fled.

The winds of change have swept scars on my form,
The sands of time have furrowed a part of me to rust.
My quaint little lane is now the center of a Street,
This mean new city now bathes me in slime and dust.

The flame is gone, it’s replaced by bulbs instead,
The dusty paths of past are now graves under black tar.
Mortals walk past me with burden of a new bad world.
The only things lingering are memories and the night stars.

It isn’t all that bad, life yet survives around me,
Happy little street urchins play under me without fret.
Broken hearts still lean on me finding solace in my shadows.
Seeking the light of love perhaps, in my dark silhouette.

My rich, black coat, has been reduced to crumbs,
Love stories scribbled on the canvas of my trunk.
Packs of street dogs mark their territory around me.
I’m covered with banners notices and every other junk.

Once in four years when something important happens,
A few people hurry up to clean me and hide my blots.
I get cleaned, decked up with a fresh coat of black,
One day of indulgence after four tainted years of rot.

But I’ve survived so long, and will survive again,
Standing tall and watching life mill around me.
Watching the poor souls going about their chores.
Never realizing the wonderful life I’ve once seen.

Braving the World, showing time the way,
Watching over them all like a Sheriff on beat.
The provenance of light in this bustling turf,
I am the Lamp Post on the 21st Street.

-X-

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Driving Dearest Dad


Stoppppp… Shift up, shift up, shift up. Slowly… Watch it… No slow down. Hit the brakes… No wait… that’s the accelerator….

A couple of years, or so ago, I would have been at the receiving end of these instructions, being barked into my ear by a driving instructor, hanging on to dear life; he pretending to teach me driving, me pretending to learn, on a bulky, bare boned, Maruthi Omni, on the pot hole filled roads of Ambattur. Who would have known, a couple of years later, A ‘road worthy‘ and ‘licensed to drive‘ Sudhakar, in his shiny red Maruti Swift, would be barking the same old instructions, to a visually excited soul, loving every minute of his time at the wheel, learning to drive with a unshakeable confidence in his instructor, something which even I never have in myself and my driving abilities. Dad, was loving it.

It was a reversal of roles in a way. A few good years down the memory lane, he was my teacher when I drove my first set of wheels. I’ve never had any vehicle to call my own. Except perhaps, the second hand BSA Champ cycle, that a family friend had ‘gifted’ me, because he was leaving to Calcutta with his family. The small, red, rusting BSA Champ. I still remember the time, when Dad held me as I steadied myself perched on the cushion of that bicycle. Which young boy can forget his first time on his bicycle, back in the time when training wheels did not exist, with his dad behind him, running to keep up with his son, providing support, as he pedalled his first few steps on his wheels, only to be zooming around in Pulsars and Karizmas of the world a few years later. You would have cried, thrown a fit, faked an injury, but Dad would have always been next to you. Supporting you and your bike, every time you lost balance. He taught me to ride a bike, I was teaching him to drive a car. Life had come full circle.

Dad was as excited as me, perhaps even more, when the Swift rode into our driveway. His son had got a car. And with his own money. He beamed with pride when he first sat with me as I took him for a spin. Beamed, yes. Perhaps trying his best to hide his nervousness with a smile, during my initial driving days. I still remember that he tried to be my navigator, GPS, proximity sensor and traffic police, all rolled into one. I remember it clearly, when I almost hit an auto which came speeding out of a curve. That was it. Two good looking ladies on an activa, standing next to my rolled down windows couldn’t help giggle, as dad shouted at me in full view of public. The auto driver didn’t need to say a word. I still think he got terrified of dad, that day. 🙂 Dad taught me his mantra that day. “In Chennai, you ain’t the King of the Road. That title is reserved to Water Tankers, MTC Buses and Autos. You are a mere subject, using the road. All you are expected to do is, drive slow and steady, and pray that nobody takes his frustration on you.” For a guy, who has been driving a two wheeler in Chennai for over a decade now, you usually take his advice with eyes closed. I did, and ever since then, I have had cycles overtake my Swift day after day. 😀

Dad has had his share of vehicles that he has proudly rode. Dad has told me that he had a cycle in his secondary school days, which he treasured till his college days. He still smiles, when he tells me the story of his first time on his cycle, and how he almost broke the behind of an innocent villager in Salem, when he ‘parked’ the vehicle between the legs of a guy having tea. He cracks me up everytime he says the story. In the 80s dad got his first set of motorised wheels, the swanky, new, blue Bajaj Chetak, which was almost like the Pulsar of the 80s. I still remember the time when I would proudly stand in front of ‘Hamara Bajaj’, pretending to ride it with a “vroooooom”, only to be jolted, everytime dad changed those stiff hand gears with a thud. 🙂 Dad prized his Chetak. I would drool at the Vespas and Kinetic Hondas of the Nineties, but I could identify from a distance when dad came home, with his trusty blue Chetak neighing away under his legs. When we moved to Chennai however, we had to leave the Chetak behind. Dad moved on to the trendy TVS Spectra, which still lies with a perfect engine but a broken body, in the corner downstairs. And off late, Dad is the proud owner of a nippy little Honda Activa, which I helped Dad get after I saw him pushing the Spectra home one night.

But all this time, Dad had never had the chance of driving a car. A dream, that his son had fulfilled only recently. You could fathom the deep desire the man had to drive a car, that perhaps only motoheads like Dad and me could understand. I had caught him a couple of times, wiping the car, after I had just washed it, making sure it was spic and span. I have seen him running to the balcony, when a neighbours car starts shrieking its Security Alarm, to check if it isn’t our Swift. I have asked him a lot of times if he wanted to drive the car, but he would always turn me down saying I needed to drive well first. I know for sure, that he was scared if he would do some damage to the car. Then one day, very recently, he signed up for driving classes with the same instructor who taught me. after a few classes of learning the fundamentals, Dad asked me this Saturday. “Dai… Will you teach me driving?” I just smiled, and grabbed my keys immediately.

Dad was nervous as we sat in the car. “Do you want to drive now dad?” I asked him, as I removed the car cover. “No da. Lets go to that T.I Cycle ground. That oughta give us some space.” said Dad, as he wiped that little puff of dust on the windshield. The T.I Cycle Ground was one huge ground, which could accomodate 8 evening cricket teams, playing in parallel. We drove there absolutely sure, that the ground would be empty. Afterall no one plays cricket in the midday Sun in Chennai, do they. Well, not everyone atleast. And as predicted, we had the whole ground to ourselves. Dad nestled into the driver seat as I introduced him to the control panel of the Swift. He knew the A, B, C’s alright, but he was nervous when he got behind the Swift. I told him it was alright, and assured him I was right next to him. Now, lot of people, I know, would have laughed their head off when I assured them that I was right next to them, but it did calm Dad’s nerves. And a few minutes later, Dad was away in the Swift, with his proud son sitting next to him. The clutch-accelerator combo was difficult for him to begin with. But after a while, he got the hang of it. A couple of false gear shifts happened, sometimes, he accelerated too fast, sometimes, the car just stopped abruptly, but slowly and surely, Dad was getting to know the beast. It was fun sitting next to him, laughing, smiling and turning the steering with him, as we negotiated the bumps, the odd rock which would have been stumps in the last match that was held here, and tiny pools of water filled with yesterday night’s rain. I got out, and tried to make a hazard course of sorts, for Dad to drive through, and he did just about fine. There were a couple of times when Dad looked at me apologetically, when we thundered over the bumps when he forgot to slow down. I did not mind it at all, and just smiled back at dad. It was like seeing an eight year old in a candy store. All excited about eating all the sweets, and yet nervous as to what Mommy would say. That day, I was trying to be the man, who held his son’s bike, as he learnt to bike. Nothing he did, would make me angry. We spent a good couple of hours there, me trying to teach everything I knew, and he, an Ex-Principal of a School, listening to me with rapt attention. After that, Dad let me take over the wheel, and drive us home. I asked if he would want to drive to home now, and he said No with an exhausted shake of his head. “Maybe next week son, maybe next week.” Its strange, the places where a Father and Son can bond. During a Cricket match, watching movie, or just debating if iPhone rocks or Blackberry, over the morning paper. Today it just happened to be my Mauti Suzuki Swift.

I love my car. I spend a good part of my salary every month paying EMI for it. I wash it, clean it every week, and spend a good deal of my time on weekends behind its wheels. I blow my lid, when someone even leans on it, and I’m sure I’ll suffocate anyone who even attempts to scratch it. But if Dad wanted, he could take it apart and scratch it till the paint falls off, and I wouldn’t say a word. Because to me, the man who taught me to ride a cycle, and his dreams of driving a car, are way too important than this contraption of polished metal, synced gears, cams, shafts and wheels, that we call a car. When your dad’s old mobile, which you had passed onto him when you ‘upgraded’ to an N-Series, has a photo of his son grinning like crazy at his car, as the only photo in it, you know he is proud of you. Dad was all smiles as we rode back home after having driven the Swift through the perfect learning ground and he had learnt to negotiate sharp curves, and simulated traffic. Dad had done perfectly fine and he knew it. He looked at my driving license, feeling the lamination, smiled at me and said – “I totally enjoyed it da. I am driving kind of fine, no?” I nodded my head, “A few more sessions, and I’ll be fighting with you for the car, Dad” I joked. He smiled, thought for a while, and then turned to me and said with a twinkle in his eyes – “You are a good teacher da. Far better than those Driving school guys. Always be patient, thats the best way to teach. Someday you’ll be a good teacher to your kids as well.” 🙂

Then… At that very instance… A mere Love you, Dad seemed grossly inadequate…

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The Dance of Joy


Poor souls caught unawares, scrambled for cover.
Parasols pointing to heaven, to fight the heavy shower.
But two street urchins, unclad, carefree and in all glee.
Danced in the rain, mirroring their heart so free.


They had no money on them that could have got wet.
No expensive mobile phone to worry about, in their pocket.
But they had all the joy in the world, as they played near the sewer.
They danced and laughed at the world which called them poor.


They had no home to go to, and call their own.
Food was a rarity, but their faces never showed a frown.
And yet they danced, on the puddles, under that dark grey sky.
And thus they taught the world the true meaning of joy.


“Oh go on world, look at us from your comfortable busses and cars.
Pity at us, shake your heads, but we don’t need you to mend our scars.
We know that in a corner of your heart, even you want to forego pain.
What then stops you? Live life, come dance with us in the rain.”


P.S: A rain poem, I wrote during the monsoons… Aww. I miss the rains.:)

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The Palace of my Dreams!


This is one of the first posts that I had written ever. And nostalgia, made me repost it after ages.

Not so long ago, a bunch of college kids landed up in a college far away from home, and decided to rent a house after they found the hostel too cramped, and the food too boring. They found an old, rickety chettinad house, which luckily the owner was ready to rent out to bachelors. And thus they found their ‘Palace’, their bungalow, their home for 4 years. I loved my palace of 4 years, and every second of the time spent there. And yes, I miss it, big time.

Though we were staying in a place most of us would call a village, we had some neat stuff filled in, built out of our home made technology. Barani had brought in an old black and white tv from his house. It was wonderful, considering it still ran, albeit being pronounced dead in the Barani household. It was on its way to a tv shop for a few hundred rupees when Barani thought we could do something with it. A few hundred rupees and a trip to the tv repair shop later, we had our own personal tv, which only a privilleged few in the student community had. And we did not stop with that. Elay got a car audio. All of us pooled in whatever speakers we could find, I gave my walkman speakers and a single torn speaker from home, Abhi and Elayraja got a couple of small speakers, Barani gave one, and with the help of a big roll of copper wire, we started wiring up our project. Our sound engineer – Elayraja ‘borrowed’ a couple of our owner’s earthern pots from the ‘maadi’ and fixed our speakers inside them. A Sunday later, we had our own ‘9.something’ Home Theater. Move over Bose and Blaukpaunt, the sound effect was surreal. Mainly because we built it ourselves. It was a home theater in its true sense. You could hear it from any corner of our home. Right from the door to the bathroom. We had lined up our house with speakers.

There was something I devised to isolate our ‘study/sleep’ room from the music when we were actually studying/sleeping. At the rare occasion when a few actually had to concentrate and study something and the others felt the urge to listen to music, we set up a switch that would cut off the music to the speaker in the study room. I was so proud of the innovation, that sometimes I spent time in the room just to use that switch. Since that room did not have a ceiling fan, and our budget did not permit us to get one, I brought a tiny table fan from home that was being used in my home as an exhaust fan. That didn’t work too well, and we were not surprised because we felt that more power went to the surface of the fan than to its motor. We used it to test our electric tester sometimes watching it glow to its fullest, and sometimes to jolt up unsuspecting first time visitors to our palace. But I loved that fan nevertheless, as it stood in a corner, unrivalled, untouched, spinning away to glory.

Initially we had no cable connection. There was a cable wire running in our maadi. But we decided against the ‘pirated’ connection because we were honest guys. And also that the wire was very visible from the road, and any malpractice would surely be noticed and scoldings and bad words would have followed. Being the geniuses that we were, we devised a small receiver out of tin foil, aluminium hangers and magnetised needles and kept it close to the cable wire a few inches away, away from the sight of prying eyes of the cable guy. To our amazement and surprise, we got a hazy picture in the tv of a few channels. Satisfied with our achievement we sat smiling, admiring our genius on the screen. But a few days later there was an argument whether the actress in that song was Simran or Trisha or Reema Sen. Somebody claimed that it was the hero himself. And during the triangular series, when in the 40th over, the wind knocked out our reciever, we decided that it was worth getting a proper, original cable connection and shell out a few bucks every month, than getting the match status from somebody else.

We also offered our services to our less privilleged, less creative friends by letting them watch tv at our p(a)lace or setting up similar contraptions in their rooms. Our fees – Bajjis and Bondas for all of us in the evenings. Heck we were studying to be engineers. That’s the least we could do. Help mankind with our expertise. Ours was a popular hangout for most of our friends, much to the dismay of our neighbours. During matches, everytime Sachin hit a four, our neighbours were hit with an avalanche of shouts, wolf whistles, screams and claps. It was an experience that all of us would treasure for our lifetime. Lying on that cliched – ‘Kizhinja paayi’ and watching Sun tv till late night and waking up to the beats of a ‘gaana paatu’. Dancing to a rehman number in the bathroom, fighting over the channel to watch, that argument of which hero was popular, boy I miss it all. There was so much that we guys did that we would never be able to do again.

Today I have a 29 inch, Sony Wega tv at home which is hooked up yo a 5.1 Home theater. A Sony music system, DVD player, CAS, Set-top box, you name it. But I badly miss the setup that we created back in the college days. This crystal clear picture with sharp audio could never match up to that hazy picture and loud audio that we experienced in our palace. Now when I think of it, I realise, that I had left behind some friends, some experiences and some treasures when I graduated. And I am sure everybody would be feeling exactly what I do. Its just not about the things you have, its the people you share it with. Oh boy…. I miss it all.

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Guardian Angels


I wrote this poem in March 2008 on the occasion of Women’s Day. Felt compelled, to repost it today.

___

You gave me life, you brought me into this world,
Enduring pain that no other mortal could bear.
You cared and loved me like no one ever could,
You quitely shed a tear when I wasn’t near.

You made me the man, that I’m now.
And I would owe everything I have, to you forever.
I wondered where you got all that strength and love.
You’re a goddess, but you chose to be called a Mother.

– To a Mother an Angel, a Woman

___

I’ve broken a few of your Barbies myself,
And hid a few other dolls when you broke my bike,
Although I feel embarassed to admit it,
Those imaginary tea parties were the best ones in my life.

Oh those days of fighting, about whom mom loves more,
Pulling hairs, and throwing pillows at one another
The world thinks, that its fight, that we do best,
But only we know how much we love each other.

– To a Sister – an Angel, a Woman

___

You came as a stranger, and became my life,
You held my hand for eternity,
You walk by my side, as a constant companion,
And promised to love me unconditionally.

You work at office, you work at home,
You stay busy when the rest of the world is free,
You’re a Manager, Counsellor, Friend and Critic,
They say men are stronger, but I disagree.

– To a Wife – an Angel, a Woman

___

You are the happiest when I succeed,
And the first one to tell me when I’m wrong,
You pull my ears when I do something naughty,
And listen to my non-sense all day long.

You tell me all your secrets, and I trust you with mine,
And I can tell you about my latest crush without fear,
With you around, I am never alone,
You are always there to wipe that tear.

– To a Friend – an Angel, a Woman

___

A woman, I believe, was created with care,
God indeed took that bit of extra time.
A big heart, strong mind, in an aura of splendidness,
An embodiment of brains and beauty, Oh Woman, you are divine.

___

Here’s wishing all the women of the world –

A Very Happy Women’s Day!

😎 You girls rock! 😀

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Chronicles of a ‘Non-Drinker’ (Hic!)


I studied (well, so they say) for my engineering degree in Pondichery. Four glorious years of my life were spent in this beautiful Union Territory, of pristine beaches, French architecture, tranquil places, and sweet people. And that’s not all what Pondicherry is famous for. Well, if you are even remotely aware of Pondichery, you would be pretty sure what I am coming on to. Liquor. ( Booze / ThanniMadhira )

Call me a wasted, tasteless bloke, who doesn’t know to enjoy life. But I have to admit that I have never tasted that amber liquid yet (nor have any plans for it in the future), inspite of being surrounded by bottles of thanni. Proud to be a teetotaller. “Yeah right” if that’s what you are saying now, don’t worry, because I get that line (and different tamil equivalents of it) all the time. But then that’s the truth, no cigarettes as well. Perhaps the biggest achievement during my college days ( Next to getting my B.E degree of course 🙂 ) was to resist these very temptations even on being away from home and staying in perhaps the holy ground of drinkers. Well frankly, wasn’t much of a temptation either. Never did like booze and its manifestations on mortals (blame it on Pankaj Udhas if you want) or the smoke and things it does to the people around.

Alright. Before I chase away the perennial drinkers viewing my blog (and they are quite a substantial lot), let me clarify. This is not a lecture on the harmful effects of booze. Well.. not exactly atleast. You see, being a non-drinker among a heap of drinkers, does have some perks attached to it. This is just a harmless recollection of a few.

They say – When in Rome, be a Roman. Well I tried to. A Pondicherian that is. But, remembering the brands and suggesting the side dish was the maximum I could go to. Well, you can’t be less educated than that if all your roomies are part of the tippler gang. The inhabitant of my room, were a bunch of wonderful guys, with hearts of gold. Alas, hearts that can be melted by a bottle of beer. (Ya ya I know, beer is a cool drink. I’ve been told that a zillion times too. Hey wasn’t whiskey recently added to that list. Ow come on, give me a break…) They say that a few sips (or gulps) of the fluid harms no one. But then, a college goers mind understands “moderation”, only as much it understands the “Theory of Computation” lecture. So a college goer party’s liquor requirements at that time were either ‘Fulls’ or ‘Crates’ (Well.. it depended on the financial constraints as well). And it was those times, when I got reduced to the role of a bar-tender inside my own house. The reason for me being conferred the honorable role of a vending machine was apparently because I was impartial in the allotment of resources. Yeah right. It was one of those days, when I had loads of Pepsi to drink, and a huge variety of side dish to feast on, as I sat back watching the wonderful sight of a pack of perfectly normal men being turned into clowns and monsters in succession by an innocent looking smelly liquid. Hmm, I was in heaven. 🙂

There is something to this spirit that brings transformation to men. Once inside those craving stomachs of mortals, it just frees the mind and elevates it to a different plane altogether. And trust me, it is quite a funny ‘plane’. You may never see the amount of emotional outpouring anywhere else than you can when a man is drunk. For some reason, one loses the inability to lie with a sufficient amount of booze inside. I wonder how long, before a polygraph is replaced by a mini-bar. And confessions of friendship, unrequited love for a friend, and life pledges for a fellow drinker are as customary in that situation as Mango Pickles are to a glass of MC. Romeo may have never professed love to Juliet as much as a drunk Raghu would do on a Saturday night to a sloshed Rajesh. “Machaan, nee enoda friend da.” (Dude, you are my friend) I cannot remember how many times I have been told this by the dude sitting next to me, just for passing him that half empty bottle of soda. If only everyone was as courteous when sober, wouldn’t we be the politest race to walk on this planet. And if you are the ‘un-drunk’ among these tipsy crowd, you’ll have a hard time remembering the love stories and crushes that everybody utters. Some with pain, some with utmost happiness. In simpler words, they provide you with the blackmail material when you desperately need a bike to go downtown, or you need somebody to buy you lunch from cafeteria. 🙂 Like I said, it has its perks.

But out of my own experience of losing my pocket FM radio, I can say for sure that booze and technology don’t mix at all. If you are unfortunate enough to have a stereo, tv, radio, computer, a mobile, a whistle or even remotely anything that can play a tune – Beware. These guys can create a raucous, loud enough to wake up Pakistan. Ask my neighbors at Pondicherry. I guess  they must have been the happiest souls to see us leave. Maybe their neighbors too. And if you are unfortunate enough to be at the helm of operating these gadgets at these times, get ready for some harrowing times. A DJ wouldn’t have change music that many time in an hour, as many you would in five minutes. I had a beautiful pocket size FM radio sacrificed to the fury of a ‘high’ roomie of mine, just because it did not play ‘Althota Boopathi’ when he wanted it to. Thank God, I did not have an iPod then. Occasionally you may be asked to turn to ‘Raj Sports’, ‘Channel Free’ (I later realized in the final year, that they had meant Channel[V]. However Raj Sports – I am still not sure) on the TV. What was I to do, launch a new channel? Their dance can put the nimblest of bollywood hips to shame. Shakira, move over. It’s the perfect comedy material for a dull Monday, if you can record it and save it. Although your computer / mobile can then become the target of many an evil eye, if word of your possession of their Saturday night jig, comes out. Or worse, your life may be at risk, if you even remotely mention about this to a girl.

Atleast these aforementioned atrocities were confined to the four walls of a room. But it becomes a serious pain in the neck when you are the only sober guy with a bunch of intoxicated maharajas on the streets of Pondy, each one, thinking of himself as the king of the world. I am always inducted in this gang, some times threatened into it, as I am by default assigned the task of bringing the sheep home. Atleast for that night, I become their Guardian Angel, herding them in an auto, explaining to the bemused onlookers, shutting up these chatterboxes shouting at the hero in the cinema theater, consoling the auto driver as somebody won’t stop giving directions to him from behind, I’ve done them all. In other words protecting the general public from these bunch of inebriated men who had beer flowing in their veins that night. Well, actually, vice-versa.

And then on having these guided these rudderless ships safely into the harbor, with the efficiency of a skilled seaman, I am sometimes more tired than them. After having laid down these spirit-filled bodies, in the nearest unoccupied ground space, I can only lay down next to them. And unmindful of the smell of whisky, beer, rum, cigarette smoke surrounding me, and the odd limbs of my neighbor resting on my aching chest, I can only sleep like a log, hoping fervently, that tomorrow will be a better day.

Usually, I am the last one to get up the following day, last one to wake up and see the sober bunch clinging to their heads with a bad hangover. Someone would give me a sly smile, and ask me – “what’s with you dude? Were you drunk yesterday as well.” I would have buried him alive at the very place, but then somebody else would interrupt. “Hey come on guys, he was the one who brought us safely home. We should thank him. Machi, lets have a thanni party tonight at t…”

Usually, at this point, I am either knocking the lights off my fellow room-mate who was bright enough to give that idea, or out at the bus stop trying to catch a bus to Chennai for the weekend. But I believe it is usually the latter. May God save the ‘non-drinker’. May God save this ounce of sanity in this insane world. Hic.…

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