Musings & Short Stories
A collection of short stories by Sudhām and posts on a variety of topics.
For most of us the growing up years of school are the times that we cherish. I bet many of us were asked to write essays on “My Best Friend”. Looking back at the years gone by, almost feel that friends are the family life lets you choose. Not to say that the I have complaints about the one I have (and no I’m not buttering up to my parents!!!).
I’m sure all of us have those cousins who irritate us no end and uncles who are snoots and aunts who’s son is better than you at everything. But when it comes to friends its different. These are people you’ve chosen to be with or those who have chosen you to be with. Either way it’s a two way street. When you’re with friends it doesn’t matter who picks up the tab after a couple of drinks at the pub. You don’t maintain books…most loans are on non-returnable basis! I guess what sets friends apart is the that there are no set expectations from friends…just that they are around.
My favourite friend moment was when a friend of mine called me and asked me what I was doing and when I said “Nothin” pat came the reply “Me too! Come over and we’ll do nothing together!!” That’s what friendship is all about. The ability to do nothing together! Who hasn’t spent endless hours just hanging around! Milkshake at ones place, followed by sandwiches at the next guys place.
Having said that, with friends you don’t have to ask. We’ve all told those little lies for a friend. A little bit of truth bending. And no, friendship is not only about covering up its also about showing the way to the best of our capabilities. Yes, sometimes plans go horribly wrong.
Friendship is a spirit that does not age..you can press the pause button for days..months maybe even years and start from where you left off. Friendship is not only about reminisceing the moments spent together; it’s about creating one more moment every time you do!!!!
As John Lennon put it…”I get by with a lil help from my friends…”
If one were to hear how Dheeraj and Uma got together, the story would have all the elements of a typical Bollywood potboiler. Love at first sight, strife, parents opposed to the relationship, you name it! Theirs is a relationship most of their friends swear by. But this is not a testament of their love, it’s a tale about how they started their married life.
It must have been the late eighties or the early nineties at best. Dheeraj was in the final year of his Bachelors in Science. Our man however harboured hopes of becoming a poet…a “shaayar”. Never had the courage to tell his father though!
The evenings in the boys’ hostel of Jamia Millia were renowned for their “mehfils”. Aspiring shayars would gather and exchange views over endless rounds of tea & cigarettes into the wee hours of the morning. Dheeraj under his pen name “Gaafil” had gained considerable repute. A name that had started finding a mention in the haloed corridors of the Sahitya Akademi.
Uma had just completed her BA in Journalism and had joined the Mass Communications program at Jamia. Incidentally poetry was a passion of hers and in the few months that she had spent in Jamia “Gaafil” and his poetry had a special corner in Uma’s heart. I did say the story has the elements of a pot-boiler didn’t I?
It took two years of travelling in the same “U Special” and Uma Parthasarathi joining the Mass Communications program for Dheeraj Singh to find courage to speak with her. Notes with poetry and walks from the bus stand eased them into falling in love with each other.
Time fleeted. Dheeraj was now a part of a theatre troupe and Uma had found employment with one of the TV News channels. Their offices were in Connaught Place and the Coffee House became their haunt.
Neither of their parents were for this relationship. While Dheeraj’s father was opposed to the concept of love in general, Uma’s father had a range of issues. For starters, Dheeraj was a North Indian, to top that he was younger that Uma and finally he barely was earning! The only voice of reason was Uma’s mother who very pragmatically suggested Dheeraj change the one thing he could; find a job!
Everyone at the Coffee House knew and rooted for Dheeraj and Uma. Their standard order comprising 1 Veg Cutlet, 1 Plate Idli, 1 Masala Dosa and 2 Coffees would be ready to serve even before either of them reached the cash counter to place the order. The cashier Rampal Yadav an elderly gentleman, would look forward to Dheeraj and Uma each day.
They would take the same seat every day discussing everything ranging from work to the new ways their parents would come up with for them to separate.
“Add 3 plates of Gulab Jamun to the usual today Chacha,” said Dheeraj to Rampal ji as he approached the counter. “It’s celebration time!”
“What’s special? Are you getting published finally?”
“Even better Chacha! We got married!!”
Both Dheeraj and Uma seemed happy. Rampal ji couldn’t but help notice how pretty Uma was looking in her Kanjeevaram. They did make a fabulous couple indeed.
They kept their marriage a secret from their parents till they could no longer keep it one. The pressure was mounting on Uma to get married and she was left with no choice but to reveal the truth.
Dheeraj and Uma set off house hunting.
“Three thousand a month and three months rent in advance,” Dheeraj said, concern writ large in his voice.
“Don’t worry, I have fifteen grand saved up,” said Uma reassuringly. “It’s small but I love it. Plus Patel Nagar to CP is also convenient.”
During the course of the next few months they went about converting the house they had rented into a home. Of course, their meetings at the Coffee House continued.
“It’s gorgeous and I know it would be just perfect for our setting.” The excitement in Uma’s voice was palpable. She was talking about a sofa-set she had seen at Panchkuian Road.
“I should be hearing from the agency too. I have penned a few jingles for them. We could use that money.”
“Who said anything about buying it?” Uma said.
“Okay, atleast tell me where you saw it. Let me check it out too.”
The next day when Dheeraj walked upto the cash counter Rampal ji hesitantly said, “Need a loan beta?”
Dheeraj who perhaps was not in the best of the moods erupted saying, “Doesn’t that signboard behind you say No Credit Chacha ji.” Rampal ji did not push the matter further. Dheeraj and Uma finished their lunch and left.
“Hey!! That’s the one I was talking about!” Dheeraj and Uma were walking back home from work that evening when she pointed out to a hand-cart laden with a sofa. The man seemed to be asking for directions.
“Hmm…nice indeed,” Dheeraj commented. They climbed up the stairs to their first floor apartment secretly yearning for the sofa.
Uma had just put the kettle on the boil when the door-bell rang. She opened the door to find the man who was pushing the hand-cart at the door.
Uma turned and gave Dheeraj who had joined her a hug.
“You are so bad!! You wanted to surprise me did you?” said Uma playfully punching Dheeraj.
Dheeraj was too dumbfounded to react.
“You have the wrong address…I think,” he said hesitantly, aware that Uma would be left heart-broken.
“You are Dheeraj Singh. Aren’t you?” asked the cart man.
“Then this is yours,” he said pointing to the sofa-set.
“Or else,” he continued, “Pay me the charges and I shall carry it back.”
Dheeraj looked at Uma almost as though seeking agreement and said, “Okay leave it here. I shall pay a visit to the shop tomorrow.”
The sofa set placed where she had always imagined it. “We could probably give some advance and pay the balance in installments,” Uma suggested.
The following day Dheeraj and Uma skipped lunch at the Coffee House and made their way to Wadhera Furniture House on Panchkuian Road.
“The sofa set has been paid for. We only deliver against full payment,” the shop owner said. “An elderly gentleman had come down, he saw the piece in the show window, made payment in cash and gave this delivery address.”
“Could it be Appa?” Uma wondered aloud. “I did mention that I really liked a sofa-set when I was speaking with Amma the other day.”
“There’s a public telephone nearby, call them.” Dheeraj said. “Tell them that we shall pay them back gradually.”
“Hello Appa! Thank you so much Appa! I knew you would come around one day,” Uma gushed as she spoke.
“Wrong number.” With that a curt voice at the other end of the line disconnected the call. Uma started sobbing uncontrollably.
Sensing the situation Dheeraj suggested that they take the rest of the day off, grab a bite at the Coffee House and head home.
“Where’s Rampal ji today?” Dheeraj asked the person manning the cash counter.
“Oh! I am sorry he passed away. Did you know him?”
“What…..how???!!!!” Uma shrieked.
“He was crossing the street on Panchkuian Road a few days back, when he met with an accident. Must have been six or six thirty in the evening. A car jumped the traffic signal and ran over him. Right outside Wadhera Furniture House….”
It’s twenty years since they got married. Dheeraj and Uma have two lovely daughters now. Dheeraj is a Creative Director in one of the leading ad agencies and Uma an Editor with the same news channel that she had joined.
If ever you are invited to their residence, you shall find that the pride of their house still is the sofa-set and a picture frame with Rampal ji’s photograph on the wall right behind it.
I have never been a happy traveler. It is not that I do not enjoy the journey or look forward to the destinations. I do. But there is something about starting a journey that makes me sick. The deep down in the gut kind of sick if you know what I mean. Many years of travelling has reinforced my belief in the concept of travelers luck. Most of us do not think about it. Then again there are those of us who are designated to be living proofs of Murphy’s Law that states “If something CAN go wrong, it WILL go wrong!!” Have you have ever missed a flight because of a flat-tyre en-route to the airport or been the guy in the check-in line who has been told the flights full or the guy after the guy who got bumped up to first class? Get the drift?
They say it sometimes takes the exception to prove the rule. What I am about to narrate is precisely that, the one exception to my travel woes!
It had all the makings of another painful travel. An exigent situation at one of our sites had warranted unplanned travel. I needed to reach Hoshiarpur from Delhi the next morning. Train was the most recommended mode and no amount of “quota” hunting had been able to secure a reservation. The best available was a wait-listed ticket whose current status was “RAC” (Reservation Against Cancellation). A silver lining considering there were still over 4 hours for “Chart preparation” or so the travel-desk had said washing its hands from any consequence.
Finished work rushed home, took a shower, threw in a change of clothes into my overnighter and I was at platform number 3 of the Old Delhi Railway Station well in time for the charts to be put up. For those of you who find all the terms I am using un-familiar you have missed real drama in your life.
The charts did not have delight to throw my way. My ticket status was still RAC. Entitled to travel but not with the pleasure of a full berth. An overnight journey on a 6ft by 21/2ft plank that too shared with a stranger. The prospects of the night ahead weren’t bright.
The train rolled in on schedule and I settled (as much as one can) on my side of the shared berth. It was seat number 7. A side berth, the kind where the facing backrests fold down to form the “berth”. My overnighter tucked neatly under the seat, I waited. The S2 coach of the Delhi-Hoshiarpur Express was filling up fast yet there was no sign of my co-passenger.
I started reading my Jeffery Archer and plonked my feet on the seat facing mine to allow movement in the aisle. I felt the train starting to move. Aha! I thought to myself, was there a possibility?? I didn’t dare build on it lest my castle got “poof”ed away. I went back to my book.
You know a good thing when you see it. Even better if it’s coming straight at you. Especially so, if it’s an insanely beautiful girl. She had make up on and was wearing a kurti over a sharara, not really the stuff one would wear when they were travelling by second class!
“Ath number tuhada ai?”
I was too dumbstruck to respond. Even if I had not been I still couldn’t have responded since I had no idea what she had said. It was Punjabi yes, it strangely sounded very different from the kind I was used to in Delhi.
She figured I was lost and switched over to English.
“Are you on seat number 8? The TTE just assigned it to me,” she said holding the ticket literally on my face! The tone had “Look, I am no push-over” embedded in it.
“No. This is seven. Eight is the one above,” I said equally curtly pointing to the berth above. I was also disappointed that she wasn’t the one I was going to be sharing the berth with. Extremely so since nothing further was said. The girl put her bags on the berth above, placed her juttis atop the fan and settled in.
There still was no sign of my mysterious co-passenger. The TTE came to check the tickets. With him was a swarm of passengers holding out tickets rolled with currency notes inside. I didn’t even ask regarding my chances. I intended to enjoy the sole possession of the berth till it lasted.
It lasted till about mid-night. Side berths aren’t really conducive to sleeping. I had folded down the backrests. I was lazily stretched across reading my book and didn’t realise when I dozed off. I still had my book on my chest when a felt a slight nudge. The book fell over.
It was an army jawan in his fatigues. He was placing his sack underneath.
“I have been given seat 7 too,” he said. He went into the restroom and returned having changed into a pair of shorts and a t-shirt.
“You sleep aaram se sir,” he said “I will adjust.”
He was atleast six feet tall and had a stocky build. He was dark and had a moustache with a flourish, almost menacing. Adjustment was something I was actually dreading.
He told me about how he was travelling on a warrant. They were moving to some location. There were other jawans from his battalion who were on the train. That’s where he had been all this while. The rest had turned in. He kept on obviously having forgotten that it was he who had asked me to sleep “aaram se”.
I too was a little tentative. I wasn’t sure whether to take him up on his invitation and sleep or to be courteous. Sharing a berth in the train is akin to a dance. There are protocols to be adhered to, the question of personal space and yes the wait for a comfortable state being achieved. But the jawan did not seem to be the kind who could be rushed. One thing I would concede, he was delightfully gentler than his appearance suggested.
He was trying to get something out of his bag. I kept looking my patience running out and sleep getting the better of me. I was also cold. The problem inside a second class coach is that it gets stuffy if you close the windows. Leaving just the shutters down allows for circulation. In my rush I hadn’t packed my blanket! It was the late October while it wasn’t really winter yet the air had a nip in it.
He pulled out a blanket and two stainless-steel tumblers. He searched a little more and pulled out something wrapped inside a hand towel. It was a half-bottle of Old Monk rum! He sat legs crossed on the berth.
“One one lovely sir?” he asked holding out a glass in which he had poured out a very generous peg.
I said no and thanked him for the offer.
“Have sir, one lovely is good. Long cold night sir…” he persisted.
Now, anyone who has spent time in an engineering hostel is bound to succumb to the allure of Old Monk. I was no different. I took the glass and waited while he poured one for himself wondering if he had forgotten to pull out bottle of cola.
Before I snapped out of my thought, he knocked his tumbler against mine and said, “Cheers”. He gulped his drink down and wiped his moustache. I followed suit. I could feel the warmth of the alcohol spread instantly.
“Something to eat sir?” he stood up and disappeared somewhere into the darkness of the other coach. He returned a few minutes later. He had something wrapped in a newspaper. He untied the string and opened the package to reveal onion bhajiya.
“Not hot sir but nice sir,” he said holding them out in front of me.
“Sorry sir but no Campa Cola sir. They finished,” he said apologetically.
I told him that wasn’t necessary and thanked him again for sharing it with me.
“No problem sir. We sharing berth so it’s like house,” he continued “Family means sharing sir. So only.”
He poured out a drink for each of us.
“One more lovely sir,” he said.
We repeated our gulping down act. While we munched on the remaining bhajiya he pulled out his wallet and showed me the picture of his wife and one year old. He told me about his routine. In the couple of hours that we had been together, I began to feel I knew everything there was to know about him.
The alcohol and sleep were kicking in hard now. He seemed to sense it and called it a night.
We stretched our legs out, him on the outside I on the inside. He put the blanket ensuring both our feet were covered. I dozed off.
I woke up to the sound of the tea vendor shouting out, “Chai! Garam chai!”
I was alone on the berth, the jawan nowhere to be seen. I panicked. There had been far too many instances of people having been offered sedative laced food and drink.
Cursing myself I threw aside the blanket and reached under the seat to check for my overnighter. I heaved a sigh when I found it intact in its position the way I had kept it the night before. I felt guilty of having suspected the jawan of wrongdoing.
The train lazily moved into the Hoshiarpur station. I had waited for the jawan to return but he hadn’t.
As I prepared to alight, the girl from berth number eight requested help with her luggage.
“Lucky you,” she said, “Seems as though your co-passenger didn’t turn up.”
“He did,” I said, “It was one of the jawans from the battalion that’s moving on this train. He must have gone back and joined his mates.”
“Really!!” she said sounding surprised.
We got off.
“Gurleen,” she said holding out her hand.
“Sorry I was rude to you last night. I was pulled out of a friend’s engagement ceremony and literally forced onto the train. I have a site inspection this morning,” she said pointing out to the logo of a renowned certification agency on her laptop bag.
I shook hands with her. “Same story here. But I had a chance to shower and change,” I said. “You aren’t going for the Schools Project are you?”
She was indeed! For a change travel hadn’t been all that bad.
I saw a group of jawans gathered near the tea stall. I excused myself and walked upto them.
“I am looking for one of your friends,” I said. I described the jawan who I had spent the night talking to. None of them seemed to place him. I was surprised. I told them about the rum and the bhajiyas he said he borrowed from his friends.
The tea stall owner had in the meanwhile overheard our conversation.
“Daruwala Fauji naa hai ji osda,” he spoke in an accent similar to Gurleen’s. What he told me baffled me further. He told me the legend of Daruwala Fauji. He told me that he was seen on trains that pass through Hoshiarpur. Said to have accidentally fallen off a moving train in a drunken state many years ago. He continues to share his love for a tipple with others. There were others who have seen him he said.
I walked back not believing what I had just been told.
We have been married for fifteen years now. Gurleen still doesn’t believe my story. One thing even she cannot refute though is how the blanket came into my possession!
One one lovely..anyone?!
OK here is a different take on growing up. One that does not involve alcohol. Well, after all its not just alcohol that makes people do silly things…. right?
Yes, this one is about Love and to some measure about Sex and Dhoka as well 😉
The late 80’s and the early 90’s had lots of stuff happening for, around and to us…Trysts with alcohol, Driving Licenses, Rock Music and Girls!!!!
We were in our mid-teens and the other gender had started making its presence or need felt amongst us. Believe me, for those of us who spent long years in Boys Only schools they had a lot more importance a helluva lot more early!!
My final take is actually about 2 different takes on what the protagonists thought was “First Love” and the instances that made their way to for lack of a better term “friendship-lore”. So brace yourself for a longish read.
Mr. Fool for Love (FfL) was an average student. He was an average looking guy too. But…the young man had a phenomenal voice. Not the singing kinds though; it was one of those deep throaty voices that were tailor-made for voice overs.
Staying with our theme….Our man had the hots for this rather petite looking girl (for the sake of this story we will refer to her as Ms.G) who stayed 2 blocks away in the same residential complex as FfL. This tale is about the lengths that FfL would go to just to get a glimpse of Ms.G.
FfL had decided that he was in love. He had also decided that it was time to announce it to the rest of the world (i.e. classmates at the Deprived Boys School or DBS).
One fateful day he did just that. The close friends were promised what was called an “Intro” during those days with Ms.G and who knows a possible intro with ahem..Ms. G’s school mates. The final bell was eagerly awaited and a bunch of us were outside in a jiffy. Meeting Ms.G had its share of logistical challenges as well. It meant we had to go all the way to FfLs house and then home. Now cycling the additional distance just to meet Ms.G was not exactly an appealing thought for the rest. FfL quickly sensed this and a deal was worked out. We were to leave our bi-cycles in school, FfL would sponsor return auto-fare (the equivalent of which in current day terms would be someone sponsoring a stretch limousine with booze and blonde’s thrown in)
We piled into the auto and reached the rendezvous Ms.G’s bus stop and waited. FfL had ensured we were well in time and Thums Up was promptly thrown in to prevent anyone of us from complaining about waiting. A rickety DTC (Delhi Transport Corporation for the unaware) school bus pulled up and a flurry of students Ms.G amongst them got off. FfL marshaled all of us and we were hot in pursuit when we finally got in-step with Ms.G.
“Hello G, how are you?” said a visibly excited FfL. “These are my friends from DBS.”
“Hello guys” was Ms.G’s reply and even before one of us could put his hand out for a shake, FfL nodded in the other direction hinting/pleading for us to vamoose. While FfL walked 10 more steps with Ms.G till her doorstep.
“What? No Intro?? What about meeting Girls???” said one us grudgingly promptly being hushed by the others and making the disappointed and oddly silent ride back in the auto.
That examination year, FfL took a major chance as a proclamation of his love and memorised only 1 Sanskrit essay that had Ms.G’s name in it. He got Lucky!
Last heard, FfL got another opportunity to walk with Ms.G. He did not invite his friends this time.
6.2 Sex aur Dhoka
It was the first winter in college (grad-school). Mr.High on Hormones (HoH) had now been dating Ms.Aphrodite (Ms.A) for over a year now.
The passing out of school and entry into college had brought along with it a new found freedom. Freedom from wearing uniforms, having to attend lectures or classes continuously and freedom to spend more time with a certain “special friend”.
HoH and A would invariably bunk a lecture or two and make sure they got “Quality” time together. A day spent scouring the streets of Delhi on foot, sitting and talking endlessly in a favourite joint or sometimes cosying up at one or the others homes.
It was one such occasion HoH and A made their way back from their respective colleges to A’s place. A’s mother was out of station and her dad was driving to the next city for a meeting and was expected back only late that evening. This meant a lot more “Quality Time” for A and HoH.
They got back ordered some take-out and settled down to watch a movie (that was, at least, the stated intent). Some way into the movie the door-bell rang. A and HoH froze, they’d already received the take away!! A tip toed to the door and peered through drawn up curtains.
She came back running and uttered “Its Dad!!! Hurry Up!!! Hide!!!”
Those are not exactly the words one is waiting to hear while cosying up.
“Whoa!!! Where???” HoH sprang up. “I don’t know… anywhere” said A, almost bursting into this rather rare tearful anger. HoH promptly slid under the bed.
From underneath HoH could hear A’s Dad narrate how he had got a flat tyre someway out and had rescheduled his meeting for later. Having done that he thought of returning home and changing into a fresh suit!!!
Well it was a rather interesting view from the “spot” that HoH found himself in.
I am sure all of us know it was not really A’s Dad that HoH had hoped to see undress!!!
To officially bring to close this series that occupied my mind-space for over a year some lines from a song which sums it up for me.
Love, love is strangeAs made popular by Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton
Lots of people take it for a game
Once you get it you never wanna quit
After you’ve had it you’re in a awful fix ….
They say going through the grind of an engineering course does, if not anything else, hone inquisitive thinking. You question the way things work, move yada yada yada. Mind you the inquisitive thinking takes an experiential form when slightly inebriated.OK, that is just a technical way of saying you get stubborn and stupid when you drink your self silly.
This was the final year of engineering for some of us. The last few months of any course often witness an increased level of bonding (read alcohol consumption) between friends.
Our institution was located in Tumkur a fair way away from the city of Bangalore, a town devoid of any night life. This particular incident is about one of our nights out in the city.
About 8 of us joined up for dinner and a session of beers. Post the sizzlers and multiple rounds of beers it was time to say our goodbyes and go crash at the pre-assigned pads of the friends who were from the city.Being from the city meant all of the following possession of a bike or a “Kiney”, knowledge of liquor vends that would oblige and a list of must do drives.
As we stood around in the parking lot over the mandatory parting smoke
“Awesome weather man, would be great to get some wind on your face…” said the Adventurous Guy (AG)
“Dunno about the wind but I wouldn’t mind another beer” said Silly Guy (SG)
I did mention that there is a cast of characters, so you will have to bear with all the names (which obviously have been carefully coined)
The Teetotaler Guy (TG) said “You guys have had enough..lets just get back home” to which the Profound Bong (PB) started to nod. He was not even half-way through the nod that the Tam Dude with his face beaming came up with
“Machan lets drive to Nandi Hills that way AG gets his wind on the face and SG his beers, God knows I can use a few too. If we start now we can catch the sunrise”
The normally Reclusive Prof did some mental stuff and said
“Yeah! You know guys, this probably will be the last time all of us can be out together… the semester end exams start 3 weeks from now”
I guess none of us questioned the finality of the what had just been said, not even the Overbearing Guy (OG).
We all set off in the direction of Nandi Hills a 65 km drive from where we were.
True to the promise the drive was laced with a lot of wind on the face for the riders and more beers for those on the pillion.
We had stopped for a bio break, we were now on the ghat section and barely a kilometer or two from the top.
Suddenly Silly Guy said “Hey! I want to ride the bike too..”
“Shut Up and sit behind AG” said Overbearing Guy
“Its just a kilometre to the top…Come On!!” said SG refusing to listen.
“Is it OK with you if I take your Kiney?” he turned to the Matter of Fact Guy (MfG).
Tam Dude butted in and said “Guys we are going to miss the Sunrise if you keep arguing”
Overbearing Guy continued ” No Da..this bugger can’t ride the ghats here are steep”
“Let him do it OG…” the Adventurous Guy said “I will sit behind him do not worry”
“Yeah..its just a Kiney…all he’s gotta do is balance it” opined the Prof which was met by yet another nod of approval by the Profound Bong.
That said the group set of OG and PB zipping out first in anger and protest with Teetotaler Guy and Prof taking wing side to OG-PB duo.
Murphy’s law “Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong”
Spotlight on the Silly Guy. Bolstered by all the support and mildly irritated with the OG, SG set off with AG riding pillion and having achieved the initial momentum started to negotiate the bend.
SG realised he was almost off the road, saw a small rock jutting out, tried to avoid it, swerved and ended up sprawled on the road. AG somehow sensed the impending disaster and managed to jump off.
Meanwhile, Tam Dude and MfG riding the other bike took the bend only to find SG sprawled on the road with AG laughing away.
MfG ran towards them saying “Shit! Shit!! Shit!!!”
Seeing him run one would have almost thought it was his love for his roomie of 4 years who lay sprawled. Well as I said almost.
MfG ran and picked up his Kinetic and his cry of angst was because the sides were scratched and the rear view mirror broken.
SG for the life of him could not understand why AG was laughing away to glory and the fact that the Kine got more attention than him from MfG had not escaped his notice.
Adrenalin rushing in his stream and blood oozing from his eyebrow SG declared “I am feeling very hot”, suddenly unbuttoned his torn shirt, pulled down his jeans and plonked himself on the embankment.
Tam Dude came around and said “Machan you want me to light a cigarette? You’ll feel better.”
The other four had made it to the top in the meanwhile and were getting restive wondering what was taking the rest of us so much time. After a few minutes decided to turn back and check.
They reached the spot to find SG on the embankment with Tam Dude, MfG and AG standing around him.
“Damn you SG….I told you its not your cup of tea you stubborn prick!!!” shouted OG “You’ve spoilt it all..now lets head the hell back”
Adventurous Guy continued his devilish laughter, while MfG rued the broken rear view mirror.
Teetotaler Guy the only compassionate soul took a look at SG’s bruise and said “Guys this ones deep..this guy needs some medical attention”
In this entire melee someone, I guess the Reclusive Prof said
“You know guys..in the beam of the headlights of our bikes..with SG lying half naked and you guys standing around smoking..it looks almost like a highway gang-rape”
Even SG managed a smile on that one.
The rest of the story…
• The guys did make it in time for the sunrise (must admit it was a sight to behold)
• SG got 4 stitches across his eye-brow albeit four hours later that too without an anesthetic at some shady nursing home in the village nearby
• SG never ever rode a bike again
I forget the year but this incident happened during one of my visits back to Delhi from my engineering college.
It was a cold winter evening, of the sort that called for a rendezvous with friends and needless to say a couple of stiff-ones to beat the chill. Money was scarce and we were consciously frugal. The venue invariably used to be one of the parks or parking ares in the neighbourhood. The colony folks had kinda resigned to the fact that these kids were incorrigible. We would also get by scott-free because we were the kids who did enough and more for the Residents Welfare Association during the annual Diwali Melas.
Be that as it may, we were a few drinks down, and catching up with things that had happened during the interim (those were the days when internet did not mean anything, mobile telephones were gizmos only the rich could afford and you could not do a conference call from and STD/ISD booth). During the course of conversation one us mentioned about some trouble his parents were having with their next door neighbours over parking. The irritating neighbour would invariably park her Scooty where his parents used to park their car. After a minor argument in this regard the neighbour would do it at times just to spite his parents. That was it, the group decided it was time to teach the errant neighbour a lesson.
Here is what followed:
The group reached the scene of the reported offense i.e. the place where the Scooty was parked (our friends parking space).After a few moments of whether the best way to teach a lesson was to deflate tyres, drain the fuel, etc.
One wise guy said “Park in a manner that they themselves wont be able to remove it!”
Even before someone could ask what he meant there was another voice that said “Let’s put the damn Scooty up on the terrace!!”
The group tried lifting it up and they could! And the next fifteen minutes were spent taking the Scooty to the common terrace of the block up 3 floors by the stairs!! (The block consisted of 2 flats to a floor on the Ground, First and Second floors with a common terrace on the third)
The next morning, imagine the surprise of the old lady on the second floor when she went up to dry clothes and found a Scooty parked over there!!!
The neighbours were only too happy to have found the Scooty which they thought had been stolen. For some strange reason though that Scooty never ever got parked in our friends car parking space.
Alcohol has the strange ability to aid seemingly rational decision making. Cinema of the day contributed with plots wherein the end justifies whatever means are used to reach it.
My take on it does have some measure of regret. But, to this day, I find it extremely funny when I think back what justice meant in this case and more importantly I always wonder where we found the strength to drag that Scooty.
This is a fairly long one. It was the summer just after the Class X board examinations. Most of our gang, to the surprise of many, had cleared the dreaded exams with flying colours and had therefore earned our right to the Science stream in Senior School.
Our take “We had arrived….BIG TIME”. Thus began the seasons (I use the term because it did not last very long and the plural because it lasted long enough) of unbridled fun. Studies, attending classes regularly and paying attention when we did was something we stopped believing in.
We were boys turning into men; it was time to move on from school boy crushes to dating. This obviously needed to be done during the school time and ours being a boys only school it meant it could not be in school.
Here’s a tale of one such date disaster.
The tale has 2 main characters let us in order to save embarrassment call them Stud Boy (SB) and Complying Friend (CF).
Complying Friend (CF) was a popular guy in school. The reason, he stayed very close to the school and by virtue of the fact that both his parents were working, the house was “available” between 8 AM and 2:30 PM on working days. By the way CF insists there were many better reasons than the one just cited.
Stud Boy had a way with girls (Note: In an all boys school the threshold for qualifying as one is low). SB had managed to befriend not one but two girls. It was the era where computers were just becoming visible and qualified resources were short. These girls who had just finished senior school had been hired as part-time assistants in our school Computer Lab. They used to take the same bus back home as SB. Be that as it may, our man had not only befriended them but some how managed to convince both of them to go out for a movie-date.
Here was the plan. CF was to stay back home (pretending to be sick) while SB would (intentionally) miss the school bus and make his way to CF’s place. The girls would report sick/have important personal work (they were employees of the school remember) and reach CF’s place too. They would all then leave for a movie, ofcourse, after a while.
On that fateful morning CF duly had a severe tummy ache, the girls turned up bright and cheerful at 8:15 AM. Pleasantries exchanged CF and the girls waited for SB to turn up.
After waiting till 10 AM all of them became restless. CF hired an auto and the 3 of them rushed to the school hoping to make it for the 10:20 AM break time and see if SB had come to school.
The school principal during those days had this habit (a rather nice one) of mingling with the boys during break time. He’d usually walk down the main staircase and hang around the the school’s main gate talking with the boys.
CF asked the girls to wait in the auto and walked across the road towards the school main gate. The move had risk (professional for the girls and academic for CF) written all over it.
Minor Disaster: The school principal spots CF talking to the school darwan and walks upto him and asks “Why you are not in school and what are you doing here?” CF wriggles out of the situation by saying that he was actually unwell was there to turn in an important assignment and to enquire about the test scheduled the next day. Smart, one would comment except he also pointed towards the waiting auto-rickshaw to emphasise the fact that he really was unwell enough to hire one instead of walking the 5 minutes he would on a normal day. Whether the Principal saw the occupants of the auto is a question CF still ponders over, what he knows for sure is that the road wasn’t (isn’t) that wide and that the girls were curious.
Major Disaster: Here’s what happened to SB in the meanwhile since morning. Our man walks out of his house late pretty sure that he’s missed the bus. He’s wearing the school uniform (lest his folks become suspicious) he packs in a change and a pair of sneakers in the school bag instead of the regular course books. Steps out sticks his thumb out to hitch a ride (A: It was cool to hitch-hike during those days and B: It saved money for the date). A strangely familiar Blue coloured Maruti Van screeches to a halt. The door slides open and the Vice-Principal of the school greets SB and says “Hop in son, missed your school bus have you?” SB complies, his sheepish grin trying its best to hide utter shock and disbelief. SB reaches school and spends the day in school standing outside the class. God bless the teachers for that’s all that they would do to students who turned up without assignments or course books.
Rest of the story:
The date never went beyond that moment outside the school gate.
CF was disappointed that SB was such an essential component for the date to carry-on.
The girls did not last beyond a few months
SB,CF and the rest of the gang had a tough, very tough time clearing exams that year
The storyteller will return.
Like I said, there are more where these came from 😉
Are you one of those people who always have ” A similar thing happened to me once….” story? Doesn’t matter whether you’re sitting over a leisurely weekend drink or taking that quick smoke break at work you most always have an anecdote that’s related.
Confession time….I think yours truly is also one of those for the lack of a better word or phrase “notorious recounters”.
No excuses but here’s where I feel the first mover has the classical advantage of being considered origninal. So here’s a new series of officially recorded anecdotes(for the wives..sorry you still got to hear these everytime) and my claim to the high ground forever for as the copyright owner.
Disclaimer: All characters and incidents in this narrative are rooted in truth. Resemblance and reference to people and places is intentional and not in the least coincidental.
Another Disclaimer:I wasn’t necessarily involved/present when some of these happened hence some amount of artistic liberty requested.
It was New Years eve and once we had been officially invited by someone who was a friend of someone whom we barely knew. But what the heck!!! This was one of those must attend “Farmhouse” do’s which were very “in” as far as Delhi of the early 90’s was concerned.
We all decided to rendezvous at around 9:30pm (only loosers hit a party early) at DefCol Nirula’s before we headed towards the party somewhere in Mehrauli. The gang duly converged and as things stood we had 1 car more than what was required. The wise men conferred and it was decided that the one of us would drive the extra car and park it en-route at a friends place and join the others. Sensible too since the lady who did come in the car would need it to get back home and DefCol Nirulas was not exactly on the way home for her.
So the gang drove off “happy” only to realise after a while that both the extra car and driver were not to be spotted. Suddenly, amidst the traffic our lady car owner spotted a bearded grin typical to our driver friend a couple of cars away…only problem wrong car!!!
Our man had gone into the parking and tried the keys on the first Maruti 800 in the parking lot…not exactly a unique identifier one would say and as we learnt it neither were the keys!!
Well the rest of the eve was spent driving back and earnestly hoping the real owner of the car hadn’t reported a stolen car.
The long and short of it…did not make it to the party that year!!
Young blood. Young blood with alcohol thrown into it… not very smart.
Getting back after that public service message…this in my book is one of the most recalled responses in my friends circle.
Here’s the scene… empty streets wee hours of the morning…race is on!!! One car zips past the other goes round the bend, the other car slows down goes round only to find the driver of the car kicking the air in disgust.
Our friend has rammed his car into a tree/parked car do not remember exactly.
We get off, ask him why in the heavens name he’d not veered clear coz we’d slowed down and there surely was room and he went “Dude…I was committed!!”
….to be continued and to close the first chapter a relatively unknown song called The Storyteller by Ray Davies.
I‘ll tell you a story to pass on to the end,
as told to me so long ago by my good friend
As we hollowed round the log fire, we laughed the whole night long,
As he told me a tale passed on to him by a wanderin’ vagabond
My friend told me the story and I’ll pass it on to you
It was handed down this century and he swore that it was true
And in the morning I could see him fade
Was it fact or fiction? Who can say?
(Storyteller) I believe ev’ry word you say
(Storyteller) I bet you told a good tale in your day
He tried to tell the people, but the people wouldn’t hear
him spinning yarns and telling tales from yesteryear
Then he smiled and finished his story
He said “Will you pass it on for me?”
(Storyteller) I’ll tell that tale for you
(Storyteller) Somehow I’ll get your message through
My friend told me the story and I’ll pass it on to youRay Davies
It was handed down this century and I swear that it is true
Walked into Coffee Home at CP after a very, very long time. A thousand memories walked in along with me, but that is not what this piece is about. Sitting at the table alongside ours was a group of elderly gentlemen.Seemed like old pals catching up over coffee and snacks and that’s what set me thinking.
Watching them break into occasional laughter, pulling each others leg and then shift gears into a serious discussion on a story playing out on one of the news channels for some strange reason evoked a feeling of time travel. It was as though I was looking at my circle of friends through a telescopic lens through time.
Will we have the pleasure of meeting up like this when we are 70?? How many of us would still be in touch??
Friendship, unlike other relationships has a wine like quality and each passing year makes it special.
I have mentioned in one of my posts that friends are family you can choose.
They say that God could not be every where so he made mothers. Friends in my book are on similar lines…only difference,they are a joint venture between Angels and Demons.
Friends are trust worthy;you can trust them to lead an expose of your most embarrassing moments at the most in-opportune of moments. Equally so, you can count on them to bail you out of awkward situations (well at least they always try).
I remember this one time when a bunch of us wanted to go out partying late. We had to get this friend of ours out of his house (his dad was a terror codenamed Phantom!!). One of us volunteered to be the birthday boy. All was going as per plan till Phantom for some strange reason wanted to know what the date that day was. He looked up and asked our helpful birthday boy who went… “Umm..Ummm…Uncle 10th. No no no uncle… 11th uncle”.
Old jungle saying “Only a fool crosses the Phantom”.
Whether we were able to get our friend to party that night is anybody’s guess..
Coming back; friends like lovers often talk about growing old together and wonder how they would be when they are older. They dream of togetherness forever.Take the quintessential Jai-Veeru kind of friendhip of Sholay or the more contemporary Dil Chahta Hai.
Friends perhaps are individual pieces of a jigsaw. It is loads of fun putting them together, making mistakes as we go along- putting the wrong ones next to one other. You make, you break, you make again trying to re-create what once was was or what it ought to be, because it takes all pieces for the picture to be complete.
Trouble is, sometimes some pieces go missing.
So here’s to the existing pieces sticking together and living everyday like a Saturday night!
As I write this post on the occassion of Independence Day, the patriotic fervour has been higher than I have ever seen in my conscious years. In an age where the distance between thought to tweet is 140 characters and an entire nation can be bridged with seven degrees of WhatsApp group separation; thoughts and opinions can travel….fast.
69 long years since India became an independent nation. Time enough for an entire generation to pass. Today’s senior citizens are not those who fought during the Independence movement. We have a Prime Minister who was born in independent India. For a large part of the population today the mention of Vande Matram evokes images of the Bharat Bala produced A.R. Rahman rendered Maa Tujhe Salaam and not the original lyrics penned by
Bankim Chandra Chatterjee that used to float liltingly over the air waves every morning and perhaps still do.
The symbols of Digital India’s pride are different from that of the previous generation. The binding glue of today’s India is the mobile phone. If there is one asset that is availble in a majority of the 200 million households which have 996 million mobile subscribers it is the mobile phone and with 280 million of them connected to the internet!
No other medium today can promise this kind of reach or penetration. The various messengers services have woven a web where dissemination of information happens real time as it happens.
Rural-urban, literate-illiterate, the haves- the havenots, young-old there is no chasm that is not bridged today in terms of a common platform of presence. Today, more that ever before the average Indian speaks his mind, airs his opinions and views to the world at large, he tweets, blogs, creates and forwards WhatsApp messages. Today support is not silent, anonymity is not a required condition for going anti-establishment or for that matter anti anything.
The growing confidence of being one of the faces in the crowd and not afraid of being seen as one. Being a part of an uprising or a movement much akin to the crowds that were a part of the independence movement. Only difference, they now do it with a few key punches or screen touches on their phones. In the comfort of their homes or while on the move.
The dream of using the mobile as a vehicle for upliftment, progress, betterment (pick a term of your choice) is not a distant one. The first step of embracing change has been taken and how!!
Today, more than ever before, we really can understand the meaning of Rabindranath Tagore’s immortal words and maybe, just maybe, hope to make our tryst with destiny! To close I quote the poem that inspired this post.
Where the mind is without fear and the head is held highGurudev Rabindranath Tagore
Where knowledge is free
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments
By narrow domestic walls
Where words come out from the depth of truth
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way
Into the dreary desert sand of dead habit
Where the mind is led forward by thee
Into ever-widening thought and action
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake
Wishing that all of us find and revel in the greatest independence there can be… THE FREE MIND!!