Thursday, December 28, 2006

In the Last 5 Days I've Learned...

-that road trips with the girlfriend's family can be fun, even if it's at the expense of a trip to the hills where you would've done nothing except smoke hashish, eat and pass out.

-that it is possible for five adults, one new-born and a mannerless dog to fit into one SUV.

-that NH-1 is also the famous GT Road.

-that I can no longer do poo poo in public loos because I'm just too snooty.

-that the Aloo Parathas at Zhil Mil Dhaba in Karnal are to die for.

-that P's elder sister is a compulsive shopper and desperately needs therapy.

-that I'm a compulsive shopper, and I don't need therapy because...

-that Nabha has not changed much since I was last here in October of 2000 for a basketball tournament.

-that even though my girlfriend's father is not in the armed forces, he lives in a housing complex where there are 30 security personnel stationed to protect 9 families.

-that my girlfriend's family has, in its own special half-Tamilian-half-Malayalee way, come to terms with my half-Bihari-half-Punjabi presence in her life.

-that P and I are not likely to have convincing answers when our children ask us about their ancestry (Tam-Mal-Punj-Bih?).

-that even if you're not South Indian, appam & chicken stew makes for a great snack.

-that a weighing machine in Nabha claims I am 103 Kgs.

-that cuddling up in one quilt watching movies all day is a perfect way of spending quality time with people you don't know too well.

-that you can actually not feel like smoking for 5 days at a stretch.

-that banana chips make me vomit.

-that if I don't get my glass of coke first thing in the morning, I'm capable of being quite cranky.

-that my girlfriend is better at badminton than I ever was/will be.

-that my girlfriend may be better at Badminton, but I can beat the living daylights out of her in Pool and Table Tennis (P, right back at ya).

-that it's not a wise idea to go to Amritsar on a rainy day.

-that Jallianwallah Bagh and Golden Temple are within 50 metres of each other.

-that no one will believe you when you tell them that the Golden Temple is actually made of gilded copper and not gold.

-that Amritsari Kulcha isn't as great as its made out to be.

-that you will smile when you see a board which says Lovely Proffesional University, but not as widely as you will when you see Balle Balle Farms.

-that stoned or not, a visit to the Dollar Store is an expensive proposition.

-that it's also possible to fit six adults, the new-born, the mannerless dog and five days of shopping into the same SUV.

-that if I waste more than an hour at the factory outlets and dollar store at Ambala, I will get very late and miss my 7:30 pm dental appointment.

-that whenever I'm going to be late, I will end up telling my mother it's because of the traffic.

-that even when you're 23, your mother can get very angry with your silly excuses.

-that even after five years with P, watching her sleep makes me fall in love with her all over again.

-that if you take a 3 weeks of leave at the end of the year, you can come back to town after a week and not have to go to work the next day.

-that its a good thing my cellphone wasn't working.

-that the moment you enter Delhi, everyone will lose all road sense, including your driver.

-that when I reach home, my mother will act all angry and upset because she knows I lied to her about the traffic.

-that my dog loves me dearly, despite the delay and the the lies.

-that the moment I take that giant bar of Toblerone out of my luggage and wave it in front of Mom, she will wrap her arms around me and give me the warmest hug ever, making me believe that I've just returned from the battlefront.

-that your dog doesn't really give a fuck about you once you've handed over the Toblerone to your mother.

-that no matter how good a trip is, it's great to be back.

Friday, December 15, 2006

On Taking Long, Long Walks...

And with that hope, I walked.

Awkwardly, as I do when my jeans tuck themselves under the sole of my floaters.

Aimlessly, like that helpless old tramp who doesn't beg, but makes you feel all guilty about being rich and having people around you.

Somewhere along the way I stopped and lit another cigarette. A young couple in the vicinity were involved in animated conversation but the moment they noticed me, they looked at each other and shared a moment of silence. As I exhaled the smoke from the corner of my mouth, I looked in their direction and smiled. They pretended to not notice and immediately started talking again. Maybe its the messy hair, I thought to myself as I walked on.

The corridors of Connaught Place were relatively empty for a Saturday, and the chill of a Delhi December evening made me re-think my decision of leaving the jacket in the car.

Another 25 odd metres on a little boy came up to me and demanded that I give him 10 rupees in exchange for the two big, red, heart-shaped balloons he was carrying. He had a running nose, and was wearing nothing but a torn T-shirt. He looked surprisingly content, in a silly, homeless sort of way. I pointed in the direction of the couple I had just crossed. I assured the boy they would buy the balloons if he insisted enough. He gave me a big grin and ran towards them.

I continued walking, one hand warmly tucked into the pocket, and the other wishing it wasn't holding the cigarette. As I passed United Coffee House the thought of hot, hot coffee and scrambled eggs on toast threw my salivary glands into a frenzy. I urged myself to focus and started walking faster.

The decision was silly, because Blues was 2 minutes away and I still had 30 minutes to kill before she would be free from her office dinner.

I skipped the turn left and walked straight ahead, hoping that by the time I went around the block, it would be 10:30 pm.

Half way there I stubbed my cigarette and took out the packet of Classic Milds from my pocket to light the next one. It was empty!

Now leaving my jacket in the car so that I could enjoy the chill is one kind of stupid. But leaving your wallet in that jacket, only to be stranded 2 kms away from your car without cigarettes and money is a stupid of an entirely different kind.

In that moment of stupidity, I looked around, out of helplessness I think. There was an ATM nearby and I spotted a potential saviour. He was dressed in a sky blue shirt and navy blue pants. He looked approachable and without even giving it a second thought I called out to him and asked, "Bhaiya Ji, beedi peete ho?"

He flashed a wide grin and exaggageratingly shook his head from left to right and said "Nahi ji!"

I smiled and said, "Achha, koi baat nahi."

I think the disappointment on my face was way to obvious because he then said,"Bhaiyya sigrit-vaala agle block mein mil jaayega aapko."

To which I sheepishly replied, "Yaar paise nahi hai varna mein khareed leta."

Embarrased, I started walking ahead, but stopped as an immediate afterthought to add, "Vo kya hai na ki wallet gaadi mein reh gaya."

I don't know why I felt the need to justify myself. I guess I didn't want to feel poor and cheap in front of a security guard.

As I turned away, he called out to me, "Saaheb, ruko!" He was still smiling when I yelled, "Kya hua?"

He came right up to me and after catching his breath, he took out a two rupee coin and held out his hand.

Now I really didn't know what to do. At this point, the voices in my head took control of me.

Voice in my head: That's 10 beedis or one Chhoti Gold Flake! Go for it!

The other voice: Are you really going to deprive this poor old guard two full rupees?

Voice in my head: Of course you are. It's not like he has an andhi behen and apahij maa for God's sake!

The other voice: Fine! But you must return it! Youmustyoumustyoumust!

Guard: Arre lo na bhaiyya. Aage paan vaala hai, beedi mil jaayegi.

Me (in a hindi movie sort of way, all misty eyed): Par tumhare 2 rupaye mein kaise le sakta hoon?

Guard (getting irritated): Rakho. Hume vaapas ATM jaana hai. Duty chhod kar aaye hein!

I took the coin from his palm.

Me (trying to sound all mother-tongue-ish): Shukriya. Yeh ehsaan raha aapka mujh par. Mein aapko thodi der mein aake lauta doonga.

On hearing that, he cracked up into an obnoxious, deliberate laughter and in his own not-so-subtle-way let me know 2 bucks wasn't a big deal. Not for him, not for anyone in this country.

I smiled another I-won't-forget-this-gesture smile and made my way to the paan-vaala. 10 beedis it was to be. I lit the first 501 Pataka and took a long drag. The smell of the beedi smoke catapulted me into memories from the one year I spent at the school hostel (my school campus is on the outskirts of CP and therefore the connection).

---Two 13-year-olds jumping out of the hostel window at 11:00 pm to go eat Anda-Bread, drink Pepsi at the dhaba in Shankar Market. Making conversation with auto-drivers and construction workers, smoking beedis with them, playing pakdan-pakdai, then streetlight cricket, bullying them into letting us batting forever, reaching the hostel at 2:30 am, finding no way to get back into the hostel because the guard has locked the window from inside. With nowhere to go, landing up at ISBT, spending the night trying to sleep in the corridors with the homeless, shivering in the cold, seeking refuge in a blanket given to them by a bus conductor, finishing all their money on tea and buiscuts, taking a lift and reaching the school campus at 6 am, just in time for basketball practice!---

My thoughts evaporated when I cited Blues, I called P and told her I'd reached. By the time she came out, I had lit another beedi. When she came out, she gave me a big hug and kiss. The bouncer and the captain from the club stared away at me, wondering why on earth someone who looked and dressed the way I did was smoking a beedi. I whispered into P's ear that I wanted to offer the bouncer a beedi just for kicks. She broke into a hysterical laughter, put her arm around mine and said, "Chal, I'm the one who's drunk, not you! And just why are you smoking that stuff baby?"

"Long story", I replied.

As we stepped into the parking lot just outside, P asked me where the car was to which I flashed my best smile and replied, "I hope you're in the mood for a long, romantic walk."

She jumped in delight almost losing her balance in drunken frenzy, and in an attempt to salvage lost pride, broke out into a dance, singing Aaj Ki Raat from the movie DON. I gave her a hug and we started walking.

Somewhere along the way she asked me why I had parked the car at the other end of CP. Was it really an attempt to be all romantic and huggy in the chill?

I blushed and asked her if she had 2 bucks to spare, and if she was in the mood to help me change the car tyre.

She looked at me in the eye, a little confused with the randomness of the answer but smiled anyway and said, "Of course sweety, you know how I LOVE to change car tyres at CP in the middle of the night."

"Just the answer I was hoping for!", I exclaimed and kissed her on the forehead as we walked on.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Who's your Daddy?

"The closest way of feeling close to someone you want to know is giving them a reason to laugh."

I have this constant need to be entertained.

Humour is the front runner. Anything for a laugh. I mean it, anything.

Some time ago, when I was surfing the relatively darker channels of the web desperately seeking a laugh, I stumbled upon a random-comic-super-hero. You heard me, a random-comic-super-hero. His name is SUPERFLY and he boldly goes where no fly has gone before.

Go say Hi to him. You'll figure out the post title once you get there.