Friday, July 13, 2012

Pakkathu veettu aunty and you - part1/2

Pre script 1: Absolutely NOM to all the aunties I know.
Pre script 2: Not a gilma story, if you are expecting that. Apologies for that.
Pre script 3: Pakkathu veettu aunty means 'next door aunty'

If you are a guy born in a tam-brahm family in the southern state of Tamil Nadu, chances are high that your life has been shaped up by various aunties and uncles, who unfortunately form the society. The influence starts right from the day you are born; Aunties - they may be your mother's friends, relatives, colleagues or anyone else, but let's call them Pakkatthu veettu aunties - have something or the other to say or advice about every aspect of life right from day 1 be it the frequency of breast-feeding, kind of food that should be given to you and basically everything. In fact, the influence of Pakkathu veettu aunties on your life may trace back to the days you were inside your mother's womb, or worse, even before that!

The relationship between you and the Pakkathu veettu aunty starts early, and unfortunately never ends. One aunty or the other always has a child who is older than you are, and for reasons best known to them, they try to frame your life the way they shaped their child's. Your parents may have paid the fees and may accompany you to school on the first day of LKG, but little do you know that some random aunty has selected that particular school for you.

A few years down the line - supposed to be the formative years of any kid - you develop interest towards various sports (which invariably will be cricket). You wish you could join a coaching camp or something but there will always be an aunty who was born on this planet to spoil your fun. "Cricket soru poduma? My son is learning carnatic music. He is only 10 years old but he's already going to perform in kutcheries. You know Usha? Her son is going to arts classes. How well they draw...".  And the next day, you find yourself in some aunty's house - drawing random flowers and animals - or  singing shouting 'saaa paaa saaaa paa saaaaa' with other unfortunate kids of your age.  Somehow, after a few months or years, you manage to escape all these tortures but the aunties aren’t finished yet.  It is impossible to know how, but Pakkathu veettu aunties somehow know the dates of exams and the dates of results more than the teachers or students themselves. They will be the first one to wish you on the day of the board exams in Tenth standard but will silently be hoping that you don't score more than their child. After the exams, they will ask for your roll number and volunteer to check your result. Whether or not you give the roll number doesn't matter. Pakkathu veettu aunties will somehow get to know your results even before you or CBSE do. And the first thing they do after finding your result? Call your mother.

"Oh.. your son got 430 ah?  Decent score. My son ah? He got 431. Super score. I am planning to put him in DAV. Why don't you also put him in DAV or PSBB? These schools are the best in town, especially if he wants to do biology. 100% doctor in 2 years! That's what Vimala did to her son..."
And lo! There you are sitting in one of those schools, where you know absolutely noone. It doesn't matter if all your friends have stayed back in the same school it doesn't matter if you know nobody in the new school. Why, it doesn't matter if the school is actually better or not. Because, your mom pakkatthu veetu aunty has already decided.

But you do manage to adjust and find new friends wherever you go. It's somehow easy to socialize if you are neither a topper nor a guy who flops, because you fall into the majority and get along with everyone easily. You find out pretty soon that MBBS is not an option for you, as you basically suck too much to become a doctor. Your Pakkathu veettu aunty gives you the next best option - AIEEE - and you invariably end up in one of those tuition centres. You complete 11th, 12th, AIEEE and every other exam and, as it always happens, you don't know where to go next. The toppers join IITs or NITs, the floppers pay money and get into some college. It's the guys in the middle - like you - who don't know where to head. But worry not! There are enough aunties in the world who have a wealth of experience in career consulting and related fields and they will always be there to help you out.

"ECE!"  shouted Meghala aunty, as all women aged 45 to 55 in the neighbourhood assembled at your place to decide your future. Samosas and Cutlets were made by your mom, of course.
"no no. EEE is better. That college in Meghalaya is very good and famous for EEE", said Manjula aunty.
"Why not CSE or IT? Computers are the future of the world! You should study IT in that college in Nagaland" said Lakshmi aunty, who sure doesn't know how to switch on a PC.
"No way! Anyone can learn computers from NITT or something. He should study Chemical engineering. That college near Kashmir? One person I know studied there.  You should also study" said one random aunty as she walked past the door.
Amidst all this, you somehow manage to gather enough courage to speak up "Aunty... I am thinking of doing Viscom. I am interested in that line...”A stunned silence fills the room as you complete the words. How dare you say something like that? Kala aunty is visibly insulted and gets up to walk out of the house. Your mother gives a disapproving glare at you, and you are forced to go silent again.
"Haha, kids these days... kannaaa, all this viscom and all doesn't have any future pa. Ok I have decided! You should do B.Tech, CSE in XYZ college of Engineering. That's the best option for your score!" All the aunties looked at each other and nodded in approval as the oldest aunty in the room - Kuchalaambal aunty - had the final say. CSE it would be! You realise that it doesn’t matter in which school you study, what course you study, how much score you get in CBSE or AIEEE – you will end up in one of those millions of engineering colleges in the state.

Unfortunately, aunties don't stick to career-advises. Aunties are everywhere in the world. Probably even inside Men’s toilets. To realise the power of the aunty-network, go out on a bike with a girl. Your college may be in some other city but aunties and friends of aunties will be there to spy on you.  The aunty will know about your relationship before your best friend does. And worse, the aunty will make sure that your mom knows.

“Hey vatsala.. I came to Coimbatore for a function dee. Your son is also studying here no? How is he studying?” the aunty has already called your mom.
“He is studying well, he says something about CGPA but I don’t understand all that..”
“Oh, ok. Ask him to study well. Oh I forgot to tell you.. I saw him today near RS Puram actually. You got him a bike? He was doing some stunts there. A girl was also behind him.. okay anyway take care. Ask him to study well..”
“Bike? No I didn’t get him any. Ok.. I’ll talk to him. Bye”

And there, the relationship with the girl breaks up even before it actually existed.
It only gets worse from there. Aunty-torture attains its peak during the 4th year of engineering. They give so many career tips on GRE, TOEFL, MS, CAT, MBA etc that you actually wonder why they aren't running a counselling firm for profit. Unfortunately for you, the sons of all these aunties are invariably toppers in whatever they do and are either studying MBA in the IIMs or doing their MS in one of the top universities in USA. 

"Kannaa you know Vimala aunty's son? He's doing MS in Stanford. My son also got an admit in Stanford but he didn't want to go abroad. He is studying in IIM A. Kamala aunty's daughter? She is doing her Ph.d in USA! This is a crucial year for you. use Barrons GRE 12th edition for preparation, mug all the words there. It might be difficult initially but work hard. Write GRE in July, TOEFL in august and then you will have enough time to prepare for CAT. After CAT, you can ....................................."

Your mind doesn't register half of what she says but your head automatically nods. "I don't give a fuck about your son or Vimala's son. Does Kamala's daughter look good?", is what you want to say, but your voice says "Oh great, aunty.. I will prepare well". And of course, you end up writing all those exams without knowing why you actually are. At the end of 4 years of engineering, you realise one thing: it doesn’t matter where you do engineering, what engineering you do, and how much you score in engineering. You will end up in one of the 4 IT majors if you are in India, or continue your studies with an MS or MBA course. Nothing else.

Pakkathu veettu aunty and you - part 2/2

The next few years – the age between 23 and 27 – are the toughest for any man. You are just starting your career not knowing where it’s headed, your friends live in different places and you suddenly don’t fit in any gang. It’s an irritating age for various other reasons – your friends, who were local bastards in school and college suddenly act decent in public forums. “Machaa, please don’t post abuses or indecent stuff on my facebook wall da. My clients may see...” Every single person of your age group you talk to tells about his/her life and laments about how miserable it has suddenly become after college. Every incident reminds you that you are in a “neither here nor there” age group. A tennis ball finds its way into your house and a kid follows, asking you ‘uncle, ball please’. Uncle? Seriously? If you travel by bus and are seated next to a woman – whatever her age is – you are sure to experience one of the most embarrassing incidents ever. The woman makes a fuss with the conductor and protests with him about how she can be seated next to a ‘male’. You wonder to yourself "do I look like someone who will molest a woman in a bus?” and wish you could convince the aunty that you are no threat to her, but as it always is the case, the aunty always wins.

To top it all, there is the pressure to ‘settle down’ which drives each and every action of yours in this age. Combine that pressure with the torture from aunties and there is a deadly combo which you have to fight day in, day out. If you are in an IT firm in India, not a day passes without some aunty or the other asking you when you are going to do an MBA, or when you will go on-site to America. It’s worse if you are in the USA – you have all the distractions right in front of you – but you have to resist the temptation and concentrate on your MS for the sake of one person (not your mom, dad or any other aunty, but for the poor State Bank of India Manager back in Chennai who sanctioned your loan). Every aunty you talk to has a few words to say on Obama, recession and the general job scenario in the country.  If you are doing something else other than the IT field, MS or MBA, the aunties will not even care about your existence.

A different kind of torture ensues after you are done with your studies. Aunties turn marriage brokers and Aunty-matrimonial services start driving you mad. You escape the torture if you have found a girl for yourself but if you haven’t, the aunties will make sure that your life is hell till you get married. If not directly, they will slyly remind your age to your mom who will pressurise you to ‘get settled’ so that you can become a marry-able commodity. The pressure only increases if your friends or anyone of your age-group in the neighbourhood gets married. Aunties will work overtime and even ask your horoscope. For some reason, they’re more eager to get you married than you actually are. If you visit a marriage, every aunty you see will come up with the most predictable line “enna kannaa settled ah? Next nee dhaan” and giggle away to glory for reasons best known to them. “onakku ponnu irundhaa kudu ” is what you want to say, but “haha.. 2 more years” is all you manage.

You somehow manage to get the ‘2 more years’ you wanted – you are around 28 now and it is time to really ‘settle down’ and get married. You escape aunty-torture a bit if you find a girl for yourself - even then, there will be an odd aunty who drills your parents about the girl’s caste, sub-caste, gothram etc. If all those aspects match, the process of marriage is made much easier and aunty-matrimonial services may even help you with it. But if by any chance it doesn’t, hell follows suit. Your mom is ostracised from the gang, you are considered a cheap unlawful person and every aunty will name at least one girl who would have been better for you than the girl you chose to marry.

You cross this stage too, and finally reach the day you will get ‘settled’. Your marriage. The aunties reach there before you, are dressed up as if they are gonna get married and get into a gang as they always do – after all, it is they who framed your life. You bear all that and greet them with a smile – it’s the last day of your seemingly never-ending relationship with your pakkathu veettu aunties. In a few more hours, you are going to settle with a family yourself and you will be throwing away the aunties from your life. Overall, it is a happy day for you – a new beginning, and a happy break up. You tie the thaali and are immediately followed by a flurry of congratulations from all the aunties present there.

“Congrats kannaa.. have a happy married life”
“Congrats pa.. no more aunty-torture or matrimony torture from us. Hahaha” Hahaha indeed.
“Congrats .. you have to be more responsible from now on. But don’t worry we won’t advise you from today. It’s your life”

It’s your life. It’s your life. The words repeated inside your head, and you finally realise that you’ve got freedom. Oh yes, you do lose your freedom to your wife, but that’s certainly not an issue compared to the freedom you attained from the aunties.  Just when you indulge yourself in the different type of happiness and satisfaction that fills you, a random woman – aged around 55 – walks and stands in front of you and your wife.

“Happy married life Kannaa. Now you have to be more careful and responsible. Settle down fast and make your parents grand-parents even faster J. You know, I got married in 1978 and had two kids by 1981. It’s not good for you or the baby if you postpone such things. You are already 28, so you shouldn’t delay it by much. So plan well, and become parents soon. It's tough to get admissions in schools also these days.. so make it soon. Congrats J

Who the f$%k was she? Why was she planning for someone else’ child? 'It’s hardly 15 minutes since I got married, and some random woman is already planning and advising me about having children?' With a shocked reaction, you turn towards your wife who says the last thing you want to hear.

“My pakkathu veettu aunty”

Aunties never die. Or Billa style la sollanum na, en vaazhkaila ovvoru naalum, ovvoru nodi-yum en pakkathu veettu aunty sedhukkinadhu da!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Toilet Terror part 1 of 1

Warning: Highly random!

“Machaan, anything but a horror film da. I won’t be able to sleep if I watch a ghost movie now!” said Mahesh.

Myself (Raghu), Mahesh, Avinash and Aditya were roommates living in the hostels of one of those million engineering colleges in Tamil Nadu. It was our final year in college, and as all final years did, we had a hell a lot of time to waste, and we usually wasted it by watching movies or talking random shit. Today, we were in the mood for a series of horror films, but it was under threat from our coward roomie Mahesh Sundar, also known as Kanni Ponnu. He was one of those rare species among boys who appeared to be a macho but would piss in his pants at the very thought of anything to do with ghosts or spirits. It was no surprise for the rest of us that Mahesh was unwilling to watch horror films, especially after 6 PM. It was not the first time either. (He had once threatened to pull out of a trip to Coorg, as we jokingly threatened to scare him by talking real life ghost incidents)

“Dey don’t start the same shit again. Mooditu vaa, nothing will happen if you watch a film. Stop being a spoilsport. You look so huge, aren’t you ashamed to be scared of such non existing stuff??” I asked.

“No da not only that.... carry on. I’ve got some project work to do. Have some assignments also. Will do them and then study for the cycle tests.”

That was the funniest thing we’ve ever heard from Mahesh in the last 4 years. Looked like even the mention of a horror movie would drive him to do scarier stuff.

“Hahahahahahhahaha. Nadikaadha da. Nee yaaru nu enakku theriyum, naa yaarunu unakku theriyum.. shut up and join us..”

We were in no mood to understand. He had been doing the same for the last 4 years and it was high time he changed. We were adamant, and after a lot of coercion, we finally got our way.

“OK! But just one film. And not the ultra scary ones..let’s just watch one of those movies which are supposed to be scary but end up being funny,” said Mahesh.

It was for the first time in 4 years that he had actually accepted to watch a ghost movie with us. Now that he had agreed, we didn’t want to stop with just one film.

“Ok machi. I’ve got this Tamil movie called Sivi in my laptop. Heard it is one of those failed attempts to make a scary film. We’ll start with that..” said Avinash.

“Start with that? End with that!” corrected Mahesh.

“Yeah yeah..start and end with that” said the rest of us, and shared a smile.

Most tamil horror films had a clich├ęd storyline – Rich boy rapes girl. Girl dies. Her spirit returns to haunt the boy, and finally takes revenge in the climax. Sivi was no different. The movie was exactly as Avinash had said it would be: a failed attempt to make a scary movie. In Sivi, the male lead (the rapist) has an unusual and persistent neck pain problem, which even the doctors are unable to cure. He struggles with pain throughout the film, and finds out in the climax that the spirit of the girl he had raped was actually sitting on his neck, causing the pain. The funniest (supposedly scariest) part of the film is the ghost itself - a poor young girl with a lot of powder on her face sitting on the hero’s shoulders. The climax also carries an explanation for the title; apparently, Sivi is the name of the snake on Lord Shiva’s neck! While Avinash, Aditya and I were ROTFL for wasting our time on this movie, Mahesh sat silently, with a stern look on his face.

“Machaa! Don’t tell me this film scared you!” we screamed together.

“Hah. No da. Not scary, not scary.. ok da.. gotta wake up early tomorrow. Let me sleep.. gnite..”

“Haha.. wake up early and pluck what? Be a sport and stay awake. Let’s watch a few more.. don’t act like a girl..” said Aditya.

After a few more rounds of Yes and No, Mahesh agreed. This time, we decided to step up the intensity and move on to real horror films. Sivi was followed by another tamil film – Uruvam, which was much better and more scary than Sivi. Now that we were well into the horror mood, we followed it up with 2 more films – Exorcist, and Ring. By the time we finished watching the 4 films, the time was already 1 30 AM.

As it usually happens, the horror-movie-watching session was followed by a horror-story-discussion session. If watching horror films was scary, discussing them in a hostel room had its own thrill factor. We switched off the lights, and started sharing various 'real life ghost' incidents. Avinash started, with his experience in his apartments in Chennai, a few years back. We listened carefully.

Avinash: It was around 3-4 years back. I was in an apartment in Adyar, and had a good friend called Kaushik. We were pretty close for quite some time, but I remember that he changed a lot after a trip to his hometown. I could sense a lot of changes in his character after that. He suddenly became aloof, and stopped mingling with the other boys in the apartment. Often, we would hear a lot of noise from his house, noises of his mom screaming and crying, and his dog barking continuously. It was quite difficult to comprehend the problem, especially for me as I was too young then. One night, when I was studying for some exam in my terrace, I saw Kaushik sitting on the wall, facing the road. "What are you doing there? Move in! It is dangerous!" I yelled.

He turned, and spoke with a rough voice "Avi, I know I am acting weird these days, but I think I have got a power."

"Power? What power?"

"I am talking to ghosts"

These were the last words I wanted to hear in the night on a deserted terrace. Not knowing how to react, I quickly turned and ran down as fast as I could. I rushed back home and closed the door. I barged into the kitchen to tell what I heard to my mom, when I heard loud noises from outside once again. It was Kaushik's mom's scream. We were used to it by this time, but now that I had heard what Kaushik said, I wanted to find out more. I informed my mom, and she gathered more people from the flats before rushing to Kaushik's house. They broke the door open, and saw something which I can never forget. Kaushik was holding a cricket bat in his hand, and beating his mom, shouting "Naan dhaan dee Uma vandhirukken. Enga dee un purushan? Naan dhaan dee Uma vandhirukken". A few uncles tried in vain to stop Kaushik, but finally with the help of some Vibhoodhi and a broomstick, managed to control him. It was later learnt that Uma was a girl in Kaushik's dad's hometown. Apparently, his dad was engaged to Uma but eloped with Kaushik's mom, which drove Uma to suicide. Now with help from psychiatrists and saamiyaars, Kaushik is fine.

By the time Avinash finished, all our hearts were beating much faster than normal. But we were not finished. Aditya continued with the Sin Jin story. Sin Jin apparently was a friend of his sister.

By now, the time was already around 2 30 and we were terrified beyond limit. We decided it was enough for the day, and went to our beds, when Mahesh spoke.

"Machis. For the last 3 years, I have been dodging and avoiding watching horror movies with you guys. I know I have been missing out on a lot of fun, but it is not because I am a coward or anything. I have a problem, which I am going to tell you guys now. It is high time I did." and continued "I lived in Delhi when I was a kid, till my 6th standard or so. Exactly one floor above mine in our apartment, a young coupled moved in. For the first few weeks, everything was normal. But with time, we heard a lot of shouting and screaming. It was almost clearly audible especially from my room, and it looked like they were continuously fighting. I informed my parents, but they kept telling me it was normal for newly married people to fight and asked me not to worry. One night, the screaming was abnormally loud and scary. I couldn't sleep, so switched on the lights and saw something through my window which I can never ever forget in my life. It was a momentary scene, but I can still remember it as clearly as I did when I saw it. The girl was flying down, and thudded into the ground. I put my head out of the window and saw the bloody scene. Too scared and too young to know what to do, I switched off the lights and went to sleep. There were some investigations after that, and the police concluded that it was a suicide." The fear was visible in Mahesh's eyes. I even thought I saw a few drop of tears in his eyes. He continued "A few days after the incident, I kept getting dreams about that girl. Every single time, she would appear and say the same thing. She would cry, and whisper into my ears 'you know the truth. Help me. Help me. You know the truth'. I have never known what to do with the dream. I have not even told my parents, but I still get the dream every now and then." Mahesh was indeed sobbing. Now, we didn't know how to react. We went up to him and after a warm group hug, retired into our beds.

Just when I was getting into a deep sleep, I was woken up, by none other than Mahesh himself. I opened my eyes, and saw the clock. It was 3 30 AM.

“What do you want at this time da?” I asked.

“Machaan.. I wanna piss da. Too scared to go alone..please come.”

"Ok you go, I'll follow you" I said, and Mahesh left.

I woke up Avinash and Aditya, and told them we needed to lighten up the mood. It was time for a prank, to make Mahesh smile and forget the hard night. I told them exactly what to do, and being roomies and best buddies for 4 years, they were instantly excited by the plan and welcomed it with a lot of enthusiasm.

We rushed to the toilet, and took positions. Aditya went near the switchboard, while Avinash and I hid right behind Mahesh, who had just begun emptying his bladder. We had already scared the hell out of him by forcing him to watch horror movies against his will, and now it was time for a laugh. 3 30 AM, a deserted toilet and a frightened Mahesh in it. It was set up perfectly for us, to execute our prank, though it was extremely childish. I gave a nod to Aditya. The lights went off. The 3 of us (Avinash, Aditya and I) screamed on top of our voices in an attempt to scare Mahesh. We expected him to get petrified and shout his throat off, but to our astonishment, we didn’t get any sort of response. The plan had clearly failed. We burst into laughter for making a fool of ourselves at this time in the night and switched on the lights, and saw something which put an immediate end to the giggles.

Mahesh lied on the floor, scared. And dead.

Toilet Terror part 2 of 2

We rushed towards Mahesh and checked if he was breathing. He was not. We checked his pulses. We found none. Having no clue what to do, we abandoned him and rushed back to our rooms. We had just killed our roommate. After a lot of panic and blame game, we decided that we won’t let it spoil our future. We switched off the lights, closed the door (without bolting it) and decided to act ignorant of the happenings.

Around an hour later, we heard a loud yell from the bathroom. Though we understood that someone had seen Mahesh lying dead, we didn't bother to react. We continued to act asleep, until we were 'woken up' by a group of boys who barged into our room. A million questions were asked, but all we had to offer was tears and the reply "i don't know". There were some investigations in our college, and a lot of people were questioned. As expected, we roommmates had to answer a thousand questions, which we somehow managed. "We went for dinner, saw a film and went to sleep. No idea what happened after that" was the crux of what we said. The issue got bigger than we expected, as Mahesh's parents wanted to know if it was suicide and asked for a post mortem report. Luckily for us, the post mortem report certified that Mahesh died to to a heart attack. None of them knew that it was caused by us.

The next few days were difficult, for we were internally engulfed with a terrible feeling of guilt. We missed Mahesh and were reminded of all the good memories we shared, especially in class and the hostel room. Every time we went to the toilet, dreadful memories of that night kept haunting us. Three weeks and an awful time later, we found a way out of this sick feeling. We decided to approach Amudhan, our classmate. Better known as Aavi Amudhan, he was extremely famous in our hostel, as he claimed to have powers to speak to spirits of dead people. (Yes, there are all kinds of people in an engineering college hostel!). Some believed he could, some didn’t. It was time for us to find out. I HAD to speak to Mahesh and convey my apologies.

“Amudhan, we heard you can speak to spirits, and are here to talk to you about a very important issue. But before that, I hope and trust you will promise confidentiality, for it is extremely serious and sensitive.” I said

“About Mahesh’s death? Don’t worry. It will not leave this room. Go on.”

“We killed Mahesh..” and we went on to tell Amudhan about the happenings of that night. After half an hour of explanation, Amudhan came up with his reply.

“Ok. I understand. Don’t blame yourselves. After all, you didn’t intend to kill him. Now coming to the issue, it is not easy to speak to spirits. It is a tough art, and there are various complications. First of all, you need to have a strong heart and reason to bring a sprit to you and make it talk. They do not come as per your wishes. Secondly and more importantly, spirits usually come in groups. You may want to speak to Mahesh’s spirits, but another spirit, who probably has some unfulfilled dreams, may take advantage and use you to satisfy their needs. That can turn extremely dangerous, if not properly monitored. But don’t worry. I will speak to Mahesh and get back to you. I am sure he will understand and accept your apologies. And I promise; this will remain within these 4 walls.”

Amudhan’s words were reassuring. We may not get to speak to Mahesh directly (which was frankly scary), but all we wanted to do was convey the apologies. Two days of extreme anxiety passed, before Amudhan called us to his room at midnight. We rushed there, without knowing how to feel. The entire room had a spooky feel to it. The room was lit up by a dim light. Amudhan was sitting in the centre of the room, wearing just a dhoti. In front of him was a rectangle kind of board, which looked like a chess board. Closer examination showed a coin in the middle of the board and random words like YES, NO, GO and COME were written on the rectangle.

“I have some good news and some bad news for you” Amudhan broke the silence. “The good news is that Mahesh is willing to forgive you. He realizes it was a prank, though it cost him his life. After all, he was your roommate, won’t he even understand that?”
We were a bit relieved. We were happy to know that we would be forgiven. But Amudhan was not finished.
“The bad news is that Mahesh has given a condition. A very weird one too.”

“What is it?”

“Whenever you are inside the college premises and want to use the toilet, especially inside the hostel, you 3 should always go together. You can’t go alone, or even in pairs among youselves”

“WHAT?!” we shouted in unison. It was the craziest thing we had ever heard in our lives. It made us lose our respect for spirits and ghosts. What a stupid, crazy and cheap condition!

“Mahesh’s spirits will always be around the toilet. If any one of you go alone, he will do exactly what you did to him. Imagine a ghost making a sudden appearance when you are having your moment of privacy.. it will be terrible! So stick together till we finish college. Raghu, I want to warn you especially. Mahesh knows that it was your plan, and he sounded a bit angry with you. So you, in particular should be very careful.” Amudhan's voice echoed in our ears as we walked out.

At first thought, meeting the crazy condition seemed no big deal. After all, we were roommates and we were anyways going to be together. “Just eat, sleep and drink together.” was our simple plan. But as the days passed, we realized that it was extremely difficult to do everything together, but somehow managed to fulfil the main condition – we were always together in the loo. It was not an easy thing to do though. Often, after eating excessively at the terrible hostel mess, there would be a mad rush for the toilet. It was almost impossible to find 3 vacant toilets, but we were left with no choice. Other students looked at us with suspicion, for we would often shout from inside to find out if the others were done and it was safe to leave.

Aditya, in particular, caused a lot of problems, for his kidneys followed strange and inhuman timings. He would often wake us up late in the night with his usual lines “Machi.. toilet da.” It annoyed us so much that we got him a box full of huggies as a birthday gift. He obviously didn't use them.

If Aditya’s unruly bladders were irritating, Avinash had a crazier problem.
“Machis. Wake up wake up. Come with me to the toilet.” he would say.

“Dey please control da. I'm half asleep.. bugger I asked you not to drink so much water before you sleep.”

“No da, not that.. I just saw a Shakeela film.. have to go to the toilet machaa.. understand!”

We didn’t know if the together-toiler rule was applicable for that, but we obviously didn’t want to risk it. We couldn’t ask Avinash to control that either, as we could be facing the same situation sometime. It was a bit too irritating, but we were getting used to it. We had no choice.

Similar problems continued at the classroom as well, which led us to be infamously called “The Toilet-Threesome”! Despite all this, we were just happy to survive. Days became weeks, which in turn became months. We somehow managed to stay alive till the end of the college, until the farewell night.

It was the end of 4 years of college. The first 3 years were extremely enjoyable. The final year started well too, until a stupid prank which ended Mahesh’s life and our happiness. But he too had forgiven us and it now time to enjoy. The boys in the hostel had arranged for a midnight sarakku (drinks) party in the hostel terrace, after the farewell celebrations. The farewell events and dinner completed by around 11 30 PM, and most of the gang, including guys who don’t drink left for the hostel terrace. One peg was followed by another, and soon we were high and crapping about various incidents, which mostly had to do with failed love stories. Since it was the last day, most guys drank much beyond their capacity, and even the teetotallers started making their debuts. Soon, we ran out of alcohol. I was a bit less drunk than most others, so I was asked to go down to the rooms to get some more bottles. I gladly agreed, and rushed down to my room to pick up the back-up bottles. But just when I was about to leave, I had this sudden full feeling in my bladder. I had to rush to the toilet, but how could I? Not knowing what to do, I stood in the deserted corridor and took my mobile phone to ring my roommates, when I saw Aavi Amudhan coming towards me.

“What are you doing here? Everyone is waiting for the bottles” he said.

“Machaan. I have to go to the toilet da..”

“The go! Why are you standing outside? Don’t waste time. Everyone is waiting!”

“What are you saying da? Did you forget the condition? How can I go?”

Amudhan paused and stared at me for a moment. Then he burst into uncontrollable laughter. I had no idea why. “Dey. Why are you laughing?”

Amudhan gathered his senses.

“Hahahaha! I can’t believe you guys trusted me for such a long time da. You played a prank on Mahesh. I played a prank on you! I can’t believe you guys actually trusted I can speak to spirits..hahahaha. Now give me the bottles, go to the toilet and join us up soon. Bye bye!” and Amudhan left, laughing his way upstairs.

I felt embarrassed, but the prank brought a smile to my face. More than that, I was relieved, for I could use the toilet now! I rushed in, whistling to the tunes of ‘Aanandham.. imayam pola aanandham’ and rang up Aditya.

“Machi.. guess where I am?!” I asked.

“Otha! Bring the bottles soon.” Came the reply.

“Haha, patience patience. The bottle is on its way up. I am in the toilet. Amudhan is bringing the bottle. Did you know? It was all a prank by Amudhan. The conditions, the forgiving, everything! Why, that fucker can’t even speak to spirits! He played a prank on us, but I must say it was a good one!” I explained.

“But what do you mean da? Amudhan has been with me throughout the night. He is still sitting next to me...” said Aditya.

And the lights went off.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

SMS Minnale - part 1 of 2

“Hi Rahul.. This is my new number. Sheela here.. how r u? Loooong time! ”

I am Arun Kumar, doing my 2nd year engineering and living in a hostel in one of those million engineering colleges in Coimbatore, Tamilnadu. I had just received an SMS with the above text at around midnight. Basically being a barren land when it comes to girls, I was not sure how to react to that message. It was pretty obvious that the message was not intended for me but I didn’t want to let go of this opportunity. A thousand questions ran through my mind as I looked at the SMS for the 197th time in 5 minutes. “Should I reply saying I’m not Rahul?” “Should I call that number?” “Should I ignore the message?” “What if it’s an attu piece?” Damn! I’ve never strained my brain so much in my life. Finally I decided to temporarily ignore the message. Firstly, I didn’t want to portray myself as too desperate by replying immediately, and secondly, it would give me time to think. As far as the attu piece dilemma was concerned, I thought of the age old wonderful saying by an unknown Tamil poet: ‘Vandha mala, Pona masuru.’

After a lot of deliberation, I decided to reply next morning from class. “Hi Sheela.. sorry for the late reply.. had slept yesterday.. I’m doin great.. wazzup with u?” Yes, I had done what Madhavan did in Minnale. I knew I was no Maddy in looks, but how would she ever find out through a phone? Nervous and struggling to concentrate in class, I waited for a reply from Sheela. After a wait of around 20 minutes which seemed like an eternity, I received an SMS.

“Hey! I’m good 2...slept so soon?? I thot guys in IIT hostels don’t sleep so early! Anyways, no problems..:).. where r u now? Bunked class? Its been ages since we spoke.. I guess we didn’t talk after the school farewell??”

IIT. A mini explosion took place in my heart. IIT enga naa enga? No wonder she had messaged ‘Rahul’ after a ‘looooong’ time! But I decided to carry on. ‘Confident machi.. confident’ I said to myself and replied:

“Yeah guys in IIT hostels don’t sleep early. But you know I’m not one of those nerds ;).. and yeah.. a looong time indeed..madam suddenly became super-busy after school :P”

Somehow, my hands automatically made me use smileys. Pretty soon I received a reply and we started exchanging messages at a faster rate.

“Ha ha! Me and busy? No way! And you not a nerd eh? Then how did u get to IIT in the first place :P?”

“Still trying to find out the answer. I actually asked my professor after I joined here. He said shit happens once in a while.. I guess that answers it ;)”

“LOL. I’m literally rolling on the floor and laughing uncontrollably. HAHAHA!” came the reply.

Was it that funny? Anyways, a part of me felt proud and happy to have made a girl laugh. The confidence urged me to continue.

“Chuck that. Hey btw..wazzup with u? What you doin these days?I’m sorry I forgot.. you know IIT guys tend to have short term memory loss ;)”

“Ah..but i thot you were not the ‘typical IIT guy’?? :P I’m like you.. in the process of wasting 4 years of my life.. I mean I’m doing engineering..but not in the IIT! LOL”

I had succeeded in my first step - to get some details. But why was she LOL-ing? Whatever. I decided to LOL too. Thought it would sound rude otherwise.

“LOL. Yeah I guessed you would be doing engineering.. and Yeah not many people waste their lives in IITs ;) It’s reserved for the special (un)lucky ones!”

“Haha! You are in IIT and you are complaining? But its logical - guys in IIT are never satisfied.. thats why you end up in IIT in the first place!”

I went and stood near a mirror. The person from the other end stared back at me and had a million expressions. Some of them being :

* This face ku IIT too much.
* This face ku IIT too much.
* This face ku IIT too much.
* This face ku IIT too much.
* Have you ever seen an IIT campus?
* Have you ever seen an IIT campus?
* Have you ever seen an IIT campus?
* You still have 3 arrears left.
* You still have 3 arrears left.
* You still have 3 arrears left.

But I decided to carry on. Confident machi..confident.

“Oh what a brainy deserve to be in the IIT :P”

“No thanks. I’m happy this way. And hey btw.. how did u find out that I would be doing engineering too??”

“Oh..that..It’s only natural for anyone to jump into engineering after 12th standard right? Especially for girls..enroll in some engineering college.. slog for 4 years... outperform the boys.. draw margins in assignments.. submit assignments a day in advance.. block 2-3 jobs when the guys struggle to get one.. and then finally give up the jobs to marry some rich guy from America.. this is the life-routine for most girls in Tamilnadu right? :P”

“Ooooohh.. why don’t you give some figures about how many girls take up engineering... how many go on to get jobs.. how many get married to America maapilais? That would be interesting..:P”

“ You think I’m captain Vijaykanth or what? ;) I am weak in those statistics!”

“LOL. You are a funny guy. Anyways.. i got to go.. nice convo after a long time.. bye bye”

It was indeed a nice convo, not after a long time - but for the first time. I just realised that I had spent almost the entire morning session in messaging her. There are a few ways to check if your kadalai session went well - First, you should lose track of time. Second and most important: you should not remember what you spoke. I succeeded in both and found myself smiling - for no reason.

SMS Minnale - part 2 of 2

The next few weeks saw me completely addicted to my mobile phone. I took it everywhere I went. Literally everywhere. You usually have an entire lifetime to waste when you are in an engineering college and I made maximum use of it. My daily routine was simple:
1. Wake up in the morning and either send or receive messages like :

Morning Coolness,
Rising Sun,
Singing Birds,
Melting Dew,
Along With This
Little Heart
Wishing You A Very
Glorious Good Morning.

2. Go to class and continue messaging

3. Go for lunch.

4. Send/receive messages like :

Give laugh to all but smile to ONE.
Give love to all but heart to ONE.
Give life to all but live for ONE..
Have a cool evening.

5. Continue messaging

6. Continue messaging

7. Send/ Receive messages like:
In this lovely night,
I pray to the sweet moon to protect you through the night,
The wind to blow away your worries,
the twinkle stars to guide you the way,
Sweet dreams and Good Night.

“Who are you messaging at 2 AM da?” Raj, my roomie asked me suddenly.

Taken aback, I stuttered and replied “Not messaging da.. playing a game on the phone.. not getting sleep so just killing time”

“Ooooho.. sounds very convincing.. show me your phone.. I’ll also play the game.. even am unable to sleep”

“Battery low machaan.. got switched off just now.. gonna sleep now..gnite,” I said and immediately deleted my inbox.

There was no way I could tell my friends what I was up to. There are some drawbacks of being a gethu gang member in college - you were not allowed to talk to girls. Friends would first tease you. Then warn you not to trust girls. Then ignore you. Then abuse you. The guys in hostel would think I was some villain and leave me out of their plans. I was not going to let that happen to me.

“Hey.. gotta go now..i’ll be dead if my friends find out i’m messaging a girl so late in the night..don’t ask me why.. thats how these idiots are in hostels :(.. do not reply.. i’ve deleted my inbox.. will msg you tomo.. gnite!” I sent her an SMS before sleeping.

The addiction got worse each day. I ignored food, I ignored sleep, I ignored my studies. All I cared in life was the SMS from her. I succeeded in almost everything - I got to know about her, I got to know about ‘Rahul’, I made her get addicted to her mobile as much as I was to mine. But there were a few questions which I couldn’t find answers to. Firstly, is this love? Secondly, is she an attu figure or good figure? Thirdly, how and when am I going to tell her the truth?

The second question didn’t really matter because I was too addicted to her anyways. The only problems seemed to be the 1st and 3rd questions, and there was only one way I was going to find answers to those - ignore her. Time would solve my confusions, I thought and started ignoring her. Yes, I decided to stop sending or replying to her messages from then on.

It was easier said that done though. My hands would itch to grab the mobile and send her a message - especially when I was sitting bored in a stupid lecture. The first 2-3 days were very extremely difficult. I would get a forward or two from her, which I read and ignored. If the first few days were difficult, the next 2-3 were unbearable.

“Hey.. wassup?”, “Hey..too busy or what? showing off that you are an IIT-an to me eh? Thought you were not one of those nerds? ;)” , “This is why I HATE IIT!”. These were a few messages that I got from her. She would never receive a reply.

A week passed, and it was getting clearer to me that I couldn’t live without her. The first question was answered. Call it love. Cal it friendship. Call it whatever. I wanted to talk to her. But the week also taught me an important thing - that I can’t continue this for long. I HAD to tell her the truth. But how could I suddenly give her such a shock? What if she stops talking to me? What if she goes to the cops? A million questions ran through my mind when my phone beeped.

“Hi.. look I don’t know what happened to you all of a sudden.. its been a while since you contacted me.. I don’t understand why you are avoiding me..but let me tell you one thing.. I don’t think I can be normal without messaging you..I don’t know what else to say.. all I can say is plzzz reply! Miss u :(“

I was happy and sad. I was happy that she missed me. I was sad that I had put her through this. An important question had just been answered. She indeed felt the same way I did. But there was an important and unanswered question. How will she react when I tell her the truth? After all, I was neither Rahul nor an IIT-an. Continue acting - told a part of me. Tell her the truth, said another. I decided not to think. I took my phone, closed my eyes and typed as fast as I could.

“Look Sheela.. I have a confession to make.. I don’t know how to say this. I am not the guy who you think I am. I am not Rahul. My name is Arun Kumar. I do not study in IIT. I am just another engineering student in just another engineering college like you. I realised the very first day you messaged me that I was not the intended recipient but decided to carry on. I know I was being cheap, but I didn’t think it was wrong. It started as a timepass thing but it became much more than that over the weeks.. I dunno if you are fair. I dunno if u r fat. I dunno if u r good looking. I dunno if u r ugly. But I do know that I don’t care. All I care about is YOU. And yes, I do know that I love you. You can choose to swear at me. You can choose to reject me. You can choose to accept me. But please do not choose to ignore me...(i don’t know what smiley to use)..”

I sent the message. I didn’t bother to read it again. My eyes remained close till I heard the next beep.

“Look Arun. I too have a confession to make.. I don’t know how to say this. I am not the girl who you think I am. I am not Sheela. I am Raj - your roomie. Please come immediately to the next room.. all of us are waiting for you :D :D :D”

Thursday, February 3, 2011

ICC shifts India England game back to Eden after Rajnikanth intervenes

In shocking developments, the International Cricket Council has decided to shift the India - England WC game back to Eden Gardens after it was awarded to Bangalore's Chinnaswamy stadium. The ICC had earlier rejected BCCI's appeal to reconsider its decision to take away India-England World Cup match from Kolkata but reports suggest that Jagmohan Dalmiya had sketched a secret plan to help the Eden Gardens in times of crisis. Sources reveal that Dalmiya had turned to the only man who could save Eden from its mess- Superstar Rajnikanth.

"Yes, its true. I seeked help from many quarters, but all my efforts went in vain. I went to the BCCI, I spoke to the ICC president Pawar. I even went to the West Bengal CM. With so many problems, I needed a break. So I watched Rajni's Robot. Thats when I realised that no human can help complete the stadium and that I needed someone like Chitti. After all, there is nothing that Rajni cant!" said a visibly relieved Jagmohan Dalmiya.

An ICC press release confirmed the reports. "The India vs England WC tie has been shifted back to Eden Gardens. We got requests from many quarters; the ICC president Sharad Pawar asked for an extended deadline, even the West Bengal Chief Minister promised immediate action. But we were adamant and stuck to our stand. But just when we were delighted that we had overpowered the BCCI for once, we got a call from Superstar Rajnikanth. The rest as they say, is history."

In similar developments, former India captain Saurav Ganguly, who went unsold at the IPL auctions earlier this year, was set to make a comeback in the T20 league. The IPL governing council, in a letter to all the franchises, has said that a request has been received from franchises that subject to them having sufficient balance on the salary cap to pay at least the reserve price of the relevant player, they should have the opportunity to sign unsold Indian players from the auction. It is learnt that the sudden decision from BCCI was also because of Rajni's intervention.

The latest revelations have resulted in widespread celebrations across West Bengal. Across the city of Kolkatta, young men and women have welcomed the double bonanza and hailed their new Dada - Rajnikanth.

"Tamilnadu's thalaivar is Bengal's saviour. He is the new Ganguly for the people of Kolkatta." Shouted Raghunath, a road side beggar in Kolkatta railway station.

It is also learnt that with no other reason to strike, the locals of Kolkatta have planned a protest on Sunday urging the Superstar to take over the Knight Riders franchise from SRK.

"F**k you SRK! You may be the Baadshah of Bollywood but you are no match to the Baasha from Chennai! Please quit and let our new thalaivar take over" posted a youngster in the 'No Rajni No KKR' facebook community.

Meanwhile, highly placed sources within the ICC gave more details about the Rajnikanth - ICC meeting.


Rajnikanth enters the meeting hall.

Haroon Lorgat(to BCCI officials): Who is this guy?

Officials: This is the Indian mass hero Rajnikanth.

Haroon Lorgat (to Rajni): Oh.. you've come to threaten us is it?

Rajnikanth: Aiyoo.. enakku adhelaam theriyaadhunga..neenga senjadhu seri illenga.. matha stadiums ku extension tharappo Eden Gardens kum thandhurukkalaam..ivlo periya edathula okaandhu, neenga ipdi elaam senjirukka koodaadhu..Eden Gardens ku match a koduthunga..Mariyaadhayaa...

Haroon Lorgat: Mariyaadhaya?? Mariyaadhaya maathanumaa? Oi! What will you do if I don't change my decision? You'll go to the police? You'll go the ministers? Or you'll go to the CM? Tell me who you wanna talk to, I'll call him up right now.

Rajnikanth: Ha ha.. naan anga elaam poga vendiya avasiyame illa..enakku nu.. oru idhu irukku..

Haroon Lorgat: What? You're a rowdy? Oi! I myself am a big rowdy. That is my main job!

Rajnikanth: Dai dai dai dai.. inga Paaru Arun, enakkum unakkum dhaan sanda, indha ICC kum, indha BCCI kum dhaan sanda. Idhula nee thokkanum, illa naan thokkanum. Unnoda aalunga thokkanum, illa ennoda aalunga thokkanum. Podhu makkal illa. Appaavi makkal illa. Ippo therinju pochu. Nee oru kozha. Oru kozha kooda sanda podardhu enakku pudikaadhu. Mudichidaren, mudichidaren, enni yezhe naatkal la un kadhaya mudichudaren.

Haroon Lorgat: Ah ah aah aah.. Mr Rajni. You are new to this job. * Clap Clap *

The local rowdies and Haroon Lorgat's personal henchmen surround Rajnikanth.

Haroon Lorgat: Hey, throw this guy away.

Rajnikanth: Sir, give me two minutes. I need to talk to you. Just two minutes.

Haroon Lorgat (to his men): Hey, sir wants to talk something to me. Let us listen what he has to say.. stay away..

Rajnikanth (to BCCI officials in the room): Please stay outside...

Everyone exits the room.

Haroon Lorgat (leaning on his chair): You wanted to talk something. What are you gonna say?

Rajnikanth: Sir, en peru rajnikanth...*smiles and leans forward*.. Enakku innoooru perum irukku.....

* Terminator BGM Terminator BGM Terminator BGM Terminator BGM, Rajni waves his hands, explains something.. Haroon Lorgat starts sweating, gets up from his seat, folds his hands and comes to Rajnikanth..*

Rajnikanth: Velila sollida maateengale?? Theriyum la? Naan oru thedava sonnaaa, nooru thedava sonna madhiri.

*Rajni claps. The ICC rowdies come inside and attack Rajnikanth.*

Haroon Lorgat: Hey hey hey. Leave him. *turns to Rajnikanth*. Sir, one match? I'll give all matches to Eden. I'll conduct the entire World Cup at Eden. Sir please sit in my chair.

Rajni folds his hands and bids goodbye. Comes out of the room and holds Jagmohan Dalmiya's cheek.

Rajnikanth: unakku match kidachaaachu!!

Dalmiya: Aaaahh.. Thank You Rajni..But how? What did you tell him??

Rajnikanth: Ha ha.. unmaya sonnen..

* Mr N. Srinivasan, the all in all azhagu raja of cricket in India, helped with the translations during the conversation.