Sunday, April 27, 2008

Summer of 69

7.30 AM

The cock-a-doodle-doo was probably a caveman's favorite idea of wake-up call. But Rahul had no particular attachment or fondness of waking up to that sound. Infact, he despised it to the core of his heart. Probably that is why he kept it as his mobile alarm ring tone so that he could atleast wake up in anger to silence it and bring his world to peace. But today being a Monday, Rahul was extra large lazy and decided to snooze it and romance with Asin for another 10 brief minutes.

Realizing that he could be late for the 9 AM conference call, he woke up at 7.45 cursing the dead person who had declared Monday to be a working day. As every bachelor's speedy get-ready-zip-zap-zoom habit, Rahul was ready tip-top in his Indigo Nation blue shirt and Van Heusen black pant by 8.05 AM. He collected the laptop bag which lay untouched in the hall.

Damn! His shoes just looked like the dirty old ones they showed in the Cherry blossom ads. Reminding himself to get it shoe-shined in the automatic machine outside his office, he picked up his Maruti Zen key from the drawer.

Hmmmm! Another 5 more days to go.


April 2003
6.30 AM

"Raghuuuuuuuu! Wake up" Rahul wanted to slap him really hard or pour water over him.

Raghu (a) Kattai (meaning log in tamil) was Rahul's roommate for the past 2 years. Any stranger who would hear Raghu being referred to as Kattai would probably derive that he was nicknamed so owing to his stocky 6 feet plus frame. But the plain fact was that it was because Raghu could really sleep like one huge log. All his floor mates once sat around him and cried and howled as if Raghu was dead. One guy even lit an agarbatti and another guy garlanded him with paper. The only thing missing were 2 cotton pieces blocking his nostrils. Oh...I almost forgot to mention. Raghu only knows this news through hearsay as he never remembered a thing.

After 15 minutes of herculean effort Raghu opened his eyes in the same vein as any amnesia-struck hero does in hindi movies. Rahul wondered if one day he would blur "Main kahaan hoon?" (Where am I) like those stupid heroes. While Rahul was revising for the 2nd time since 4.30 AM, Raghu had another 1.5 units to cover and finish them off. In Raghu's almanac revising was a word as much absent as a happy saas-bahu relationship in Ekta kapoor's serial.

"Is it time to go to Anthony?" asked a sleepy Raghu.

Anthony (a) Drunken monk was their exam guru. Other than gulping Haywards 5000 and Kalyani black label in 5 mins flat, Anthony had a unique gift of forecasting the probable questions. In every other exam he would predict atleast 3 questions of which 2 would certainly appear. While Rahul wore his regular brown pant and striped shirt (which he wore on every other exam since the first semester as a regular sentiment), Raghu went to the campus Vinayaka temple which was as usual operating house full as on every other semester exam period.

Rahul felt a knot in his stomach as he sat in the exam hall. Surprisingly though, it had nothing to do with skipping his morning breakfast or the semester exam.


2 PM

Rahul was bored. After checking all his gmail, yahoo, msn and office mails for the 3rd time and finding no scraps even in his orkut even though he had uploaded new pics, he was kind of sleepy and frustrated. He had finished the conference call, worked on some Statement of facts documents, reviewed some artifacts and had a full lunch.

The curd rice was beginning to show its soporific effect. His outlook calendar reminded him that he had a team meeting in another one hour where he was supposed to go through the usual drill of asking the status and hearing a customary "Its done" although everyone knew it was far from ready.

Deciding to give himself some break, he walked to the new state-of-the art shopping mall opposite his office. He found the Cadbury dairy milk Roasted almond too tempting to ignore and decided to have one. Just as he was billing it in the counter, he observed a child nudging his mom and pointing towards him.

"What is it honey?" asked the mom.

"I need that chocolate" declared the kid in a get-what-I-ask-for-or-I-will-scream-my-lungs-out tone.

"Which one darling?"

"The one that the uncle is having."

Just as he heard it, Rahul dropped the chocolate on the floor.



Rahul lost his interest in the chocolate. As he passed outside the shopping mall, he saw his pale reflection in the mirror. What had he become? At 27, he had a paunch like a 3 month old pregnant lady. His forehead was receding (thanks to his genetic gift from his dad and granddad) and there were dark circles on his face thanks to insomniac working hours.

Still, Uncle seemed a little bit far-fetched.

He promised himself to hit the gym once again and drain it all out. If Shahrukh could do it, then so could he. He saw the chocolate. Was all the gymming and dieting worth the loss of tasting the chocolate, panneer, pizza, pasta or another hour of peaceful sleep in the cozy bed wrapping the blanket around? Either way what was the point of having six-pack abs if it were to stay tucked in behind the executive shirt all day along?

As he reached his cubicle, he wore his iPod earphones and turned them on. It immediately came to life with "Summer of 69" by Bryan Adams. The song transported him to another world in another day.


April 2003
2 PM

The college canteen was almost full. Every chair seemed taken and no doubt Baalu anna was having some bloody brisk business. This was the same place where they had shared all their joys and sorrows. It had witnessed them celebrate surprise birthday parties with the most wonderful to the stupidest gifts presented. The Birthday bums, cake cutting (or snatching), the romantic jodis drinking one Maaza for one day. This was the same place where the guys would rate the girls and vice-versa as if they were competing for some Gladrags competition.

The phase "beauty lies in eye of the beholder" comes to life in canteen as the same girl/guy marked 10 in one person's view gets 2 in another person's perspective. They would give CD to Baalu anna to play and he was their DJ in one way or other. Rahul passed him the CD which he had compiled some days before. No one seemed in a mood for full lunch. The track started from "paapa kehte hain" and rolled on with "Mustafa Mustafa", "Manase Manase" and so on. Half of the girls had already started crying and hugging.

Some guys did pose to be tough and acted all chirpy-chirpy, but as the tracks progressed, their resolve weakened and they seemed to shed a tear or two. In one way or other, college life marked an important event in every person's life. We learn to adjust, fail, succeed, celebrate, embrace, make friends, enemies, love, hate and do so much more. To him, college seemed like a crash-course on life-skills.

As Bryan Adams crooned "I got my first real six-string", the guys came out alive. Barely anyone knew the lyrics. The only line they all knew collectively was "Those were the best days of my life" and they shouted it with as much vigor and enthusiasm as they could muster. By the end of that song they were laughing and embracing each other which prompted Baalu anna to play it one more time.

By the end of the song, Raghu hugged Rahul and admittedly he did looked silly shedding tears for his entire six foot frame. It almost looked like Hagrid hugging Harry.

"Will you miss me Rahul?" asked a moist eyed Raghu.

"Not if we stay in touch forever you dumb-ass" replied Rahul.

They laughed and cried at the same time.


1030 PM

Its amazing how the human mind works. Just one 3 odd minute song and he was still reeling under its effect for more than 8 hours. It was as if so many emotions and memories were attached to that one song. Like a domino effect, it slided with one memory, then the other and another and another....till it made him feel how much he missed those happy days.

Rahul did not find the nerve to call Raghu even after contemplating it for 3 hours. Finally he mailed a "Hi Boss" mail after a long thought. In the beginning few months till he went to work, Rahul regularly called Raghu and all his friends or atleast mailed them. But as days progressed, the 3 paragraph mails shrunk to 2 and then to one and finally condensed to occasional scraps on orkut or facebook.

What had happened? Was it him? Them? Or Both?

Was this the happy life he had dreamt about? Was this the triumph he had envisaged? All nothing but personal glory? What had happened to "Not if we stay in touch forever"??????

It was not like Rahul had been totally out of touch. He went with his friends to Munaar on one of their friend’s marriage, went to Coorg for trekking, had wolf-whistled in one of their friends marriage function. Thank the lord that the bride was also their college-mate, otherwise they would have been driven out for all their misbehavior. He would occasionally mail them or talk to them, but maybe he felt like he could do more. Instead of waiting for the other person to contact him first, maybe he should have taken the first step forward.

He smiled as he wondered what would be their reaction when they would read his mail after such long time. He was listening to "Summer of 69" for the umpteenth time. Even today he hardly understood what Bryan Adams was singing or the words for that matter. Maybe it didn’t matter and probably it never would. He decided to join Bryan Adams and sung "Those were the best days of my life" closing his eyes and losing himself to the magic.

His team mates in the adjoining cubicle peeked into his cubicle and found him singing merrily with his eyes closed and sporting a child like smile.

P.S: An ode to the amazing, memorable and wonderful college days :-)

Sunday, April 13, 2008

The missing piece

He: "You are really dumb."

She: "It took you one year odd to discover this truth?"

He: "Haa haa...very funny. I am referring to your idea for the weekend."

She: "Whats wrong with this? Isn’t this fun?"

He: "You call this fun? I guess this problem is hereditary."

She: "What do you mean?"

He: Your dad told me that he liked Vaanathai pola.

She: What’s wrong with that?

He: Oh c’mon. You believe that such people exist on earth who carry yellow colored bags with 10 bananas filled in them, wearing overgrown shirts, sporting scale sized moustache, crying at the drop of a hat and with la-la-la background thrown up at every possible emotional instance.

She: Ok Mr. Steven Spielberg's aunt's cousin. Just bcoz you have been born and bred on Hollywood movies doesn’t mean that the rest of the fraternity watches aliens, Armageddon and save-the-world shit.

He: Agreed. But c’mon...not vaanathai pola please.

She: Remember that you liked Yaaradi Nee Mohini?

He: Hey...atleast there was Nayanthara on screen to distract me.

She: Oho. That’s why you fought and bought over those 200 Rs ticket to go and droll over Ms. Mallu?

He: (trying to shift gears) ok leave that. Why do we need to do this on a weekend?

She: What’s wrong with this?

He: WHATS WRONG WITH THIS? Tell me what is RIGHT with this.

She: It’s a 1000 piece puzzle. It would be fun solving it.

He: Fun? A 1000 piece puzzle?

She: Yeah. Its food for brain. Its timepass. Its team work. What else you want?

He: We could have gone for bowling. Why this stupid puzzle?

She: B’coz of you.

He: Me

She: Yep. You suck at bowling.

He: Excuse me. I am good at bowling.

She: The last time we played, I beat you by 100 points.

He: So what? Admitted you are little better than me.

She: Point is I scored 120 and you scored 20.

He: Hey, everybody has a bad day. We could have gone to Spencers or Citi Center or Beach.

She: Ok. You hate when someone stares at me at Spencer or Citi Center.

He: Blame me for that?

She: And you are one uncontrollable kid at beach.

He: Why is that?

She: Bcoz when you see the waves, you run and dive into the water and become wet like pigs.

He: I always like beach water.

She: I hope you were not expecting Pamela Anderson to come running in her bathing suit in super slow motion to come and save you.

He: No need. I have you.

She: I don’t know to swim.

He: But you can shout.

She: Ei…..Ok. Enough banter. Help me find this piece here. If we find this we are almost done.

He: Do you observe a similarity?

She: What? We are missing a piece of nose of a pig in a jungle.

He: Exactly (looks long at her pointed nose).

She: You you you…. dumbo. (She throws some pieces at him).

He: Hey hey...peace peace.

She: Neither you help and now you make fun of me as well.

He: You are stupid. You will solve this stupid puzzle and yell "yay"

She: So what?

He: I solved a huge puzzle of my life and I didnt even make a sound about it?

She: What are you talking about?

He: Yep.

She: How big was it?

He: (crawls slowly towards her) It is 5 feet 8 inches tall, weights 58 kilos, its lovely and beautiful and is the candy of my eye.

She: (whispers) Why suddenly so romantic?

He: Bcoz..(goes near her ears and whispers) You are not giving me the remote and I think I need to see India bat now.

They laugh and pay tug-of-war with the remote.

P.S.: Dedicated to Heidi who would be soon be having the bliss of playing tug-of-war with her hubby.