Friday, May 20, 2005

The Classroom Cartoonist - me, the next R.K. Laxman?

I will be out of station for the next ten days, and will be away from blogsville. :-(. But I will be driving along South India's expansive highways. :-D. Anyway, till then, adios. Hope this post reads good - I wrote this as well a while back. (Btw, I will try to sneak in a post or two from Trivandrum, where I shall be ;-))

Becoming a classroom cartoonist is one of the best ways, according to Carnegie Mellon University, to win friends and influence people. If you are a short, pimply bloke like me whom the girls never bother to say hi to, you can always woo them with your pictures of the Hindi teacher in a toga sipping on moonshine in a western saloon.

However, classroom cartoonists have several problems related to suppression of their artistic freedom. They face some of the same perils that Commie dissidents who attempt to tell the General Secretary that the people prefer bread to cake and Cuban cartoonists who depict Ol’ Fidel dancing the tango in his underwear.

It is however a highly worthy pastime as the following account of my own experiences as a classroom cartoonist clearly illustrates.

How ennui almost made me the next R.K.Laxman (1998)
(and the brutal story of the suppression of artistic freedom that followed)

This happened when I was an untried, untested young lad of 14. I was in my ninth standard and as penance for a misspent young life, I was sitting in the first bench, writing notes and actually listening to the teachers in class.

But even human endurance, even if toughened by the rigours of penance, has its limits. My endurance met its limits in the History class. I found myself utterly incapable of staying awake in the class.

But the History teacher was unfortunately blessed with the eyes of a hawk as well. She would notice every tear of boredom (and there were a lot of them) that streamed down my cheek and bless upon me that sardonic smile that was the precursor to expulsion from the classroom (and a subsequent, rather unpleasant meeting with the vice-principal).

Our teacher discussed Hammurabi’s code at a pace that would have appeared to be slow even to an acclaimed retard like George W Bush. It was therefore scientifically impossible to stay awake in her class and actually concentrate. I had even attempted to count the number of leaves on the tree outside my class.

I therefore developed a scintillating new technique of passing the time which I was sure would escape the notice of her eagle eye. I began to devote every moment to concentrating upon splitting her image into two. I could see two of her, two black boards, two lecterns and two of everything else including my nose. In spite of the fact that staring at four stout forearms wielding chalkpieces was worse than staring at just two, this occupation seemed to be safe yet fun.

But, when I was into my third day and attempting to discern whether one of her was actually smaller than the other, I realized that she (both of her) was looking at me rather intently whenever she turned away from the blackboard. At the end of the class, she asked me, with a highly concentrated version of her sardonic smile, to visit her in the staffroom.

The invite was definitely not for a cup of tea over which we would discuss world politics, I concluded (though I fervently it would be something along those lines). When I went into the staff room, I was filled with a nameless dread.

She asked me, rather sweetly, ‘Siddhu, do you have a squint?’

I had to reply, rather perplexed, that I didn’t. The last thing I expected her to ask me was this. I would have been less surprised if she had asked me whether I was harbouring Osama at my house.

[Sardonic smile switched on like a 60 watt bulb.]

‘Then why, pray tell, are you squinting in my class? You do that once more, no, I will take you to VP, ok?’

And then, she launched into a long-winded lecture about how she was the epitome of virtue when she was herself a student (rumoured to be sometime in the decade before the First War of Indian Independence).

The question of why I saw two of my nose had been worrying me all the while. The answer now struck me like a tight slap across the face.

That was the end of my career as an image splitter.

And that marked the beginning of my cartooning career – the boredom beating technique that this blog is all about.

I thought India was a free, democratic country. After all, had not Keshav walked free after consistently representing Narasimha Rao with a zipper for a mouth? With such illustrious predecessors behind me, I felt no qualms as I set about creating my own set of cartoon characters from a bunch of eccentrics I met everyday – my schoolteachers.

This, I was sure, was by far the safest and most entertaining technique of scoring one over ennui. Even hawk-eye, my old nemesis, would not be able to discern that I was drawing her in battle dress fighting Hamid Karzai in a ring. She would definitely, I reasoned, assume that I was copying her ugly drawings of the map of Upper Mongolia (circa 1560).

Once again, my master strategy succeeded initially. In fact, in order to maintain continuity in the strips I was illustrating, I dispensed of every notebook except one which became the only one I carried to school every day. Until that fateful day…

It happened to Napoleon at Waterloo. To Hitler at Stalingrad. To Alexander the Great in the Gangetic plains. And to yours truly in the History class.

Buouyed by the fact that not a single teacher had yet suspected me of adding their mug shots to my notebook, I grew bolder and bolder. I was so involved in crafting the AK-47 that Ahmed Shah Masood was to shoot Musharaff dead with that I did not notice the sniggers of the class. I did not notice the slight shadow that had formed over the notebook. I did not notice the dangerously sardonic smile until a familiar hand whisked the book from underneath my pen.

It was, as that intellectual giant of our times, Arnold, would have put it, Asta La Vista, as far as I was concerned.

What followed was just another reason for the reformation of the school education system in India. The suppression of my artistic freedom would have put even Fidel Castro and Saddam Hussein to shame.

Instead of appreciating my artistic creativity at such a young age and having a hearty laugh over how I had portrayed the G.K teacher in a Superman suit (among others), the P.T sir hit me with the branch broken from a convenient tree, my history teacher did not let me inside her class for the rest of the year, my science teacher told me that she would fervently pray that I flunked my board exams and to top it all off, my parents took a rather unfair and uncharitable view of the whole incident.

However, thanks to this, I did not suffer from boredom at all, for a very long time…

Monday, May 16, 2005

The Horny Mallu and the Indecent Proposal - Part II

The sound of a female voice to Bharat was like sex to a nympho. He just couldn’t have enough of it. Every second hour, he’d message asking me if he could hear my sweet, mellifluous voice again.

The voyeur in me had a field day for the next week or so. Bharat had grown bolder with every passing day. Life, as far as Bharat was concerned, was exactly like the erotic stories he’d devoured from the age of ten. His conversations with Maya had begun to progress along the lines described below–

Bharat: (drooling all over the phone, while his spare hand probably attended to urgent business downstairs) Vot you wearing?

Maya: (who barely tolerated these questions) Oh, a Salwar

Bharat: Ohhhhh… salwaaarrr! (Yeah baby! Salwar is probably girl-speak for a G-string)

After six days, Maya turned to me,

‘I’m ****ing sick of this guy. How many more ****ing days am I going to ****ing tolerate this ****ing b******, you bi**h? I can’t ****ing talk to that ****ing retarded b****** every ****ing day!!! Next thing you know, god knows what he’ll want to ask!!’

Maya always believed in expressing herself with a refreshing candour that turned the surrounding air a deep shade of blue.

(Note: Going by the contents of the above conversation, I was left with little doubt as to what he’d want to know next. Your predictions are welcome on the comment board)

I echoed her sentiments as well. I was getting tired of replying to messages which read,

‘Wat are u doing?’

‘I have never seen cute nice girl like you.’

‘ur voice is so sweet I am loving u now.’

Ad nauseum

Ad infinitum…

We called Bharat up that evening.

Bharat: (amorously – didn’t I tell you he was one fast worker?) Oh hello, &^&^*. How r u my honey? I am feeling so nice to hearing to your voice.

Maya: Listen, Bharat, my boyfriend saw one of your messages. He’s a very possessive guy. He’s got so angry that he’s just gone out to uproot a coupla trees and punch the plaster off the wall.

Bharat: Vot??

Maya: Yeah, he finds punching the plaster off the wall always has a calming effect on him. He always does that before his boxing matches.

Bharat: Why?

The usually loquacious Bharat was, for once, less interested in what ‘I’ was wearing, and more in what people would be wearing to his funeral.

Maya_: He is like that only…!

At this point, Maya let out a realistic squeal that almost scared me shitless. And then she pushed the phone into my hands.

I was then suffering from the same ailment of the thorax that had vexed me so at my MICA interview. But on this day, sounding like Don Vito Corleone was just what the doctor had ordered.

‘How on earth can you talk to my girl? Who the hell are you? I’ll bloody stake you out, kill you and dance on the remains with hob-nailed boots. ‘, I shouted menacingly.

‘I have hob-nailed boots at home, and the hobs have big nails on them.’, I added rather cleverly.

I carried on in this vein for a few minutes, after which I ran out of breath and expletives.

When I paused, I half-expected him to confront me and fight me for me.

(He thought I was the female me, and not the male me that I actually was. Get it? Probably not!)

But what he ultimately said was something that I could have never have expected.

‘Vot is yuver name?’

I was nonplussed. Bharat had outmarshalled me. I was about to say something when he piped in yet again, ‘I did not understand anyding.’

I decided to slip into the vernacular, and told him in a few choice words that he would be placing his life and limb in grave risk of dismemberment if he dared call my girl again, who in this case was me myself. Well, that’s a moot point.

It was a chastened stalker that hung up.


A few days later, when I recounted this story to my mother, she expressed a desire to instruct Bharat on a few home truths…

In spite of my protestations, she placed the call.

Bharat, contrary to my expectations, picked the phone up.

After my mother apprised him of how he had been bamboozled by her 20 year old son and his friend and that every woman in the Reliance directory wasn’t a lissome 18 year old nymphomaniac, Bharat had but one thing to say,

‘Vot is the number of the girl I spoke to, then?’

My mother hung up.

Bharat had won… The stalker always wins, goddammit.

Next time, I do the stalking.

P.S: Dai anybody has any good figuru number? Dai, then I can connect superbly no?

The Horny Mallu and the indecent proposal – Part I

Since the 2nd of May, I’ve been examinationless, and blissfully so. Unfortunately, the bliss that had settled over me was unsettled somewhat because I was struck down by a severe case of writer’s block (yet again!). It was then that I stumbled upon This reminded me of the yarn of

The Horny Mallu and the indecent proposal – Part I

It was as I was travelling to college on a rickety old bus that I received the first such message from some number I had never seen before.

‘Hello… can we be friendship?’

It was the work of a moment for me to figure out that this was some horny bloke, to whom a girl had last spoken to in 1990, who was the mastermind behind this message.

Resisting the temptation to request him to stop assassinating the English language, I ignored his message, hoping he’d go away like some of those bad dreams I’ve had, where my vice-principal chases me with an AK 47 in one hand and a Chemistry text book in the other.

But the stalker was more tenacious than my vice-principal. (who usually gave up the chase and lets me wake up after he’s taught me a couple of units in Engineering chemistry)

Message #2 popped up, a mere 5 minutes later.

‘Why no replying?’

This chap was not just persistent but mentally deficient as well, I concluded.

‘ Do I know you?’ , I typed tersely.

Since I had not the misfortune of being stalked ever before, I found it rather ridiculous that the same chap would send me two messages at once.

‘No, but we will know each other. I am Warrier too.’

He knew I was a Warrier?!! A sudden dread filled me. Could this blighter be homosexual, and looking to commit his sodomy for the day? Like a Boy Scout making life miserable for all and sundry trying to perform his good deed for the day? Like Shakti Kapoor out to cast his couch for the day?

It was then that it dawned upon me that this connection was in the name of my mother, &^&%^. And that the idiots at reliance thought that posting mobile numbers on R World was a altruistic gesture. Besides, the Reliance Directory contained nothing to indicate that &^&^&^ was the mother of a 21 year old. Mr. Stalker doubtless had a 21 year old chick in mind.

I was about to inform him of the sad truth when a terribly devilish idea; an idea of Machiavellian – nay, Sistoian ;-) - proportions struck me.

I typed in furiously like a man possessed.

‘Oh that is so nice. Hello’

The next message took a while coming. I began to wonder whether the friendly neighbourhood stalker had been taken aback by what was probably the first decent reply he received from a ‘woman’ in the space of the last 500 SMSes.

Then, ten minutes later, I received a message that removed all the fears I had of Mr. Wonderful’s sexual orientation. I also realized that he was not merely straight and desperate, but was also in a hurry.

‘O I m bharat frm kochi.u v sweet.i kno ur name is &^&%^.sweet name.i wnt 2 tlk u hear ur tell wen I can cal den I wil cal please ’

I could well imagine him slobbering over the phone as he typed it in. But a work of art it was not.

Shakespeare, if he had seen the SMS, would have probably shaken his spear at it.

Don Juan would have told Casanova,
‘Romeo, this chap is not!’, and Casanova would have shaken his head wisely in agreement.

The wanting to hear my voice bit was something I had not expected. At least, not so soon. When I was about to counsel him on patience and on the wonders that a little foreplay could do, devilish idea #2 dawned upon me. It was almost as if the spirit of Machiavelli had taken possession of me.

‘Maya*, come here a minute, if you may…’, I hollered to a friend of mine when I reached college.

As she walked over, I told her about the amorous advances I’d been the recipient of. I informed her about how this bloke wished to hear sweet nothings from my ruby red lips.

My crisp baritone, though admirably potent when put to use on the female of the species, would not pass muster here.

‘And since I don’t anyone with a sweet voice, I guess you’ll have to do.’, said I.

Maya ignored the slur, primarily because I offered her quite a few doubloons from the Warrier chest. The fiscal strain on the coffers would be tremendous, but us Warriers can take the rough with the smooth.

I messaged the boor,

‘Hey, you can call me whenever you are free.’

I had hardly pressed the ‘Send’ Button when the phone began to ring. I handed it to Maya.

Maya: Hello, I’m &^&%^. must be Bharat. (ridiculous falsetto that would have aroused suspicions in anybody else.)

Bharat: Er…hello I am bharad. I simbly colled to make friendship.

Maya: Oh that is like choooo sweet of you. What do you do, Bharat? (sounding like a VJ from a music channel who bears a strong resemblance to a buffalo)

As the conversation progressed, it got more and more inane. Bharat’s heart-strings had been set a-flutter by the warmth with which Maya’s voice was so liberally suffused.

But a week later, I realized that letting Bharat speak to a female voice was a Himalayan Blunder, as Jyoti Basu is so fond of putting it.

To be continued

* The name of the girl who did the dirty work is changed to protect author’s life and limb. And I’m particularly safe because I don’t know no Maya. :-D

Friday, May 13, 2005

To quit or not to quit...

From childhood on, I’ve been something of a quitter.

It all started when at the age of five I decided I wanted to learn to swim. I saw myself swimming away to Olympic glory, circumnavigating the world with my bare hands and having as many pretty, adoring female fans as Ian Thorpe.

My poor, unsuspecting uncle took me all the way to a swimming pool and told me to go take a shower and put my trunks on. I looked at the water, and saw that it was uncomfortably deep, not to mention uncomfortably cold. The shower capped it – there was no way I was going to take a bath! So I decided to quit.

I told him sagely that there were lots of girls around, and the sight of my dashing self in trunks would probably cause a riot (as they scrambled over each other to get out of the pool).

And thus did I quit…


Then, at the age of seven – the guiltiest secret of my life. Yes, I had been sent to carnatic music classes for a month. And my voice was just as bad then as it is today.

I decided to quit. But then, that wasn’t exactly my fault. My music teacher unceremoniously ejected me after tolerating a month of cacophony.

‘Maybe he has other talents, but a Yesudas he is not’, said my embarrassed music teacher to my mother, a day after she requested me not to darken her doorstep again.

And thus did I quit…


Then when I was thirteen, I met the Sensei. The Sensei was looking for a big challenge. But big challenges are hard to come by after you’ve jumped through hoops of fire, painted the chief minister’s portrait with your blood and had people break huge blocks of stone on your chest.

He took one look at me – fat, languid and unbearably loquacious.

He turned to my mother and expressed to her his fond desire to teach me the ancient art of self-defence that the Japanese had used to great effect.
Ever since the time when Meee Schream Loudawa (85-50 BC) tried to kick a dino who’d strayed into his cave, missed the dino completely, landed on a rather sensitive part of the anatomy and screamed out a loud ‘Kyaaaiii’. (The dinosaur ran out of the cave with a ruptured eardrum, and thus was born the ancient art of Karate.)

It was a skeptical mother who told him to try and see if he could.

I could do fifty push-ups on my knuckles with a light laugh. Twisting my body into ridiculous contortions while mouthing Japanese obscenities bothered me a bit– especially when my paunch got in the way – but I could do it all right (the creaks and snaps notwithstanding).

But what really got my goat was the pernicious habit two of my friends developed of standing outside the gate of the house where I learnt karate and passing lewd comments about my robes, my katas and the general inflexibility of my body. I wanted to sock it to them there wise guys.

But the Sensei had told me that no proponent of Karate ever used his hands (which, in case you didn’t know, are lethal weapons) to hurt even the smallest mosquito. More importantly, both the smart alecs were considerably bigger and stronger than me. As they laughed, I’d noticed muscles like iron bands rippling underneath their shirts.

So I decided to quit instead. I told the Sensei that I’d read ‘My Experiments with Truth’ and had been convinced that ahimsa was the only way. I’d outmarshalled the two amateur commentators. Besides, those darned mosquitoes were really getting to me.

(stage resounds to a loud slap as I sadistically annihilate a family consisting of papa mosquito, mama mosquito and two baby mosquitoes)


Cut to: 1999. A young, still plump and languid 15 year old about to walk into the big bad world of a science education in India smiles at you.

That ugly kid who’s grinning at you is me. It was in ’99 that I got the bright idea that I could make it into one of the Indian Institutes of Technology. All it required, reasoned I, was buying a huge sack of books and joining classes where balding old men on the threshold of losing their sanity taught you the fundamentals of Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics.

What I had failed to take into account was that one also needed the ability to sleep four hours a day and still remain fresh as the proverbial daisy, work a hundred problems out in an hour, and have an IQ of at least 100.

I, on the other hand, found it difficult to stay awake during the two hours of JEE coaching class unless I tried to count the number of hairs on the professor’s dome.

I could solve a hundred problems in an hour if they were of the ‘Rama has three apples and he gave Shyama two of them, being the kind of selfless retard you read about only in Mathematics books. So how many apples does Rama have now?’ kind. But problems in the JEE were a little more complex than this.

As for the third count, well, I’m no Forrest Gump – Forrest’s a lot smarter.

So, the logical step out was to quit. And quit I did. My father still has plenty to say on the loss of several thousand rupees he incurred, especially when he
espies pile upon pile of material – still pristine in their plastic packaging.


I had turned an avid fan of the ‘Body Beautiful’ philosophy a couple of years ago. I spent hours at a gymnasium, sweating away in the 45 degree heat, trying my best to haul weights that weighed more than me. Ignoring aches, cramps and creaking joints, I religiously walked the hundred meters to the gym. I even ate healthy. I continued thus, until I looked a bit of a steroid junkie, especially around the arms. But then, because of changing priorities and a growing belief in the fact that having big biceps didn’t mean that people who viewed you as Little Lord Fauntleroy earlier would begin treating you with the respect due a Tarzan, I decided that gym wasn’t such a big deal after all. And I quit!

A month later, I welcomed my paunch back. And a few days ago, the beginnings of my erstwhile second chin began to peek out of the fat on a much rounder face.


But today, I have blogged for almost five months. I have persisted – even when I was receiving around two visitors a day and one of them was me, not to mention the time I had to take off several politically incorrect posts. I am surprised I continued. I had a niggling feeling in the back of my mind when I’d started that I’d quit by the middle of February. But I didn’t. And today, I’ve received 2000 hits!

Have I changed? Have I learnt from the old go-getter maxim which went ‘Losers never quit, and quitters never lose’? Have I got the aforementioned maxim wrong? Well, I don’t know…

But one thing I do know, if it weren’t for all y’all wonderful people. I’d like to right now thank my vacuum cleaner, television remote, dog, the mongoose who lives on the tree next door, the three sparrows who shit on my clothes every day…Waitaminit, this was the speech I’d prepared for when I win my Oscar*.

Anyway, the fact remains that I do owe the fact that I remain a blogger to you. So, thank you, and comment allez vous, mesdames et messieurs

* For those who came in late, I expect an Oscar any day now for my performance in front of my math lecturer when she caught me drawing caricatures of the vice principal dancing the waltz with Hamid Karzai.

It went something like this, (tears in eyes, loudly bawling when not speaking)

’Ma’am, Siddhu was a good boy, Ma’am. Peyi erriduthe (translated: A ghost possessed him). He will exorcise the ghost and get back to being the sweet chap I … I mean… he was, Ma’am.’

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Gandhi and the Prank SMS Industry - Part II

At 12:30, our professor decided that we had learnt enough about the life cycle and mating season of the PNP transistor and left the classroom.

The chap arose from his seat, still fiddling continuously with his Reliance. As he walked towards the canteen, I regaled him with cheerful prattle about R World. Not because I found R World or its applications particularly interesting, but because that seemed the only topic that could presently hold his attention for more than a few seconds. And I desperately wanted to be around when _______ called him up. (I had noticed her looking terribly worked up and preparing herself for an explosive outburst)

Gandhi was lurking in the background as well, and still had that ugly smile affixed on his face. The more I saw the smile, the more I felt he looked like a vile medieval villain. But I, once again, did not devote much thought to Gandhi’s facial expressions. I was too busy thinking of new Reliance IndiaMobile features to keep ***** at his seat in the canteen.

12:45 – almost like clockwork, the cell rang. Sadly, _____ was in the classroom. She was probably too flustered to come down to the canteen. So we were not blessed with the opportunity to hear both ends of the conversation.

‘Hello...Good Afternoon...’, said the chap, in a cheerful tone, which was rather inappropriate considering what she had called for.

There was a pause for 30 seconds and the omnipresent cheeky grin on *****’s face went into hiding behind his lips for the first time in living memory.

‘Why, this is ***** here... Wha....?’

There was a much longer pause and we could distinct hear a shrill female voice screaming incessantly over the phone for around two minutes. Gandhi and I watched with barely concealed glee as the expression on the bloke’s face became graver and graver with every passing second.

‘Listen...what am I to do if you’re on drugs or some mo***&* blackmails you about it...’, shouted he. By then, he had begun to appear distinctly haggard and frustrated.

Gandhi was bent over double as he bit his jeans to muffle his laughter.

‘You’ve got psychological problems. You’re hallucinating...’

Gandhi moved a safe distance away and began to laugh like a particularly boorish hyena.


*****’s angry voice resonated across the canteen. Everybody fell silent. Eggs, beans and crumpets (to borrow a phrase from Wodehouse) all around the canteen turned their heads around to take a dekko at *****. ***** suddenly realized he was the cynosure of all eyes. All eyes except one, to be precise. Gandhi had placed his hand smack on top of somebody’s fried rice (much to the diner’s dismay and consternation) and continued to express amusement to a degree that was almost unholy.

Embarassed, he hung up rather tamely with a muted and rather unnecessary ‘Bye...’

I began to ask him wide-eyed questions as to the identity of the mystery caller. He started telling me about ____’s apparent mental imbalance. It was as he was propounding a (highly implausible) theory that ______ had a crush on him and how her crush had made her act irrationally that Gandhi turned up, looking rather a vulture out on a hunt for juicy caracasses.

‘Hi *****... , what da machcha, _____ called you up, ah?’

I was stunned. After comparing Gandhi to Machiavelli, the last thing I expected from him was to make a blunder which even the Beagle Boys wouldn’t.

***** looked up suddenly from his phone which he was fondling like a long-lost brother,

‘How the hell do you know?’

‘Hmmmm... Siddhu may not like me telling you this, but I think the joke went a little too far and since I feel it may cause irrepairable harm to your friendship with ________, I think it is best that I tell you...’

Gandhi had that wretched smile of his plastered all over his face. I should have known, I thought to myself, Machiavelli always liked to be the last man standing!!

I thought of the possible courses of action that lay open to me –

A) Attempt to smother Gandhi with blows until he confessed to having planned and executed it himself
B) To attempt to run to the bike stand and disappear from college for 10 days

I arrived upon Option (B) as the more workable among the two after taking one look at Gandhi - who did not resemble the Mahatma (either physically or in the purity of his mind).

But I could not exercise either option as ****** gripped my wrist firmly. Under such circumstances, people like Jack the Ripper and Arnold Schwarzenegger would have broken free. But even a cursory inspection of my physique would reveal that I was neither. So I stayed put.

Gandhi, that turncoat whose treachery would have done Benedict Arnold and Mir Jaffer proud, continued to reveal a fabric of terrible lies and slander all of which was unfortunately true.

I slumped into a chair –defeated, a shadow of my former self.

To cut a long story short, the events that followed were not pleasant in the least. ***** swore to use my cell for even more nefarious purposes, I was forced (after being arm twisted (yeah, literally) into compliance) to apologise to _____, ______ blasted me in turn and almost pushed her cell’s gargantuan antenna up my nostril, ______’s friend blasted me just for the pleasure of blasting me(and later cornered me and asked me if I had a crush on ____ (please, for heaven’s sake, not that!!, I thought) and whether this whole incident was calculated to portray a potential rival (!!?) in bad light) and Gandhi laughed his way to a free Coke, courtesy ******.

Sadly, my dear readers, like most incidents in my life, this ended in sorrow. Therefore, it ain’t too shocking that I end up writing tragic stories like these which would put any Greek epic to shame. Don’t blame me, dear readers, for not being a cheery soul. Don’t blame me, my countrymen, for not writing cheerful stories. Blame it all on the machinations of a cruel fate...

Monday, May 09, 2005

Gandhi and the Prank SMS Industry - Part I

Sending prank SMSes from others’ cells (and getting caught doing so) is the best way to do unto death whatever little social life you may presently have.

But then, what’s life without a little risk? And if you, like yours truly, will never win a congeniality contest, the only risks that you take by sending prank SMSes is that of being physically assaulted.

Note: The receiver HAS to be a she – detailed studies have proven that except under exceptional circumstances, guys never react as interestingly and entertainingly as females do, when bombarded with prank SMSes.

Prank SMSes can be on a variety of topics, from the morbid to the simply ridiculous. But for best results, try the following tried & tested prank SMS series– tested under stringent conditions at Dr. Siddhu’s ISO 666 certified laboratory at the National Institute of Technology and Science.

‘Help me, I need a fix – and HOW!!!’

It was during an exceptionally tortuous stretch of extreme boredom that this idea struck me.

I was thinking deep thoughts about the fly that I had found in my curry at the canteen yesterday when I noticed one of my classmates fiddling away furiously with his new Reliance IndiaMobile, while another stared at her ancient mobile, probably waiting for it to reveal to her the secrets of the universe. (The mobile was ancient enough to have been around during the creation of the universe)

My mind, indelibly perverted by a lifetime of sitting through boring lectures, raced at the possibilities of sending her interesting (to say the least) messages from his cell. And considering the fact that she was one of the most hyperactive and short tempered girls in class, an explosive reaction would almost definitely result.

I shared the idea with my neighbour – a bloke named Gandhi who wasn’t impeded by any of the scruples that his illustrious namesake was so unfortunately saddled with. He assured me it was a pippin.

I turned to the chap who was still immersed in the wonders of his new Reliance and requested him to show me the piece for a bit.

The bloke, whose name I decline to reveal for obvious reasons, hesitated. But after I’d praised the looks of the phone (though it looked ugly enough to be the property of the neighbourhood scavenger – and in fact, lots of scavengers did possess them) and compared it with the ancient phone which the aforementioned female was fiddling around with, he gave in. The all-important cell changed hands. Gandhi and I got to work almost immediately.

Hi ____, I knw u vry wll. I m ur clssmte. I knw u r on drugs. I cn say by lukin at ur face.

The message was received a few seconds later by ____, who was still thinking of how useful Babur had probably found her cell during the first battle of Panipat.

She saw the phone light up with the message. Her face lit up just like the phone’s screen, the only difference between the two being the absence of the green backlight on her face.

But after reading the message, her expression changed entirely to one of total shock. Gandhi and I suddenly began to suspect whether we had actually hit the nail on the head when we decided to talk about her drug addiction.

She began to type feverishly into her cell. We could almost hear the keys, aged veterans of a million SMSes, creak in agony and protest as she typed it in.

Who are you?

It was the Reliance’s turn to light up in all its glory.

I knw u knw who I am. I dnt wnna play arnd. All I need is a lil dope. I knw u knw whr to get it- pls meet me at ‘Coffee’ wt the stuff in evening 7 30.wil pay u thr.

She looked really flustered and began fingering her dupatta which she’d tightly wound around her neck by then. She got into a deep discussion with her neighbour who seemed to favour the ISI conspiracy angle from the look on her face. After frenetic consultations, she messaged me –

I dnt knw who u r or wht u r tlkin abt.

Gandhi’s face lit up with ill-concealed malice. He told me how we could facilitate an admirably violent twist in the kahaani.

Till that date, I had underestimated Gandhi’s flair for villainy. He came up with a masterstroke – an idea so clever that I concluded that if there ever was anyone who could write a sequel to Machiavelli’s The Prince, here stood he. It was truly exceptional that anybody who so resembled Magilla the Gorilla could possess such a wonderfully devious mind. But so it was.

All I could say was, ‘Gandhi, my boy… I’m proud of u…!’

He punched in -

Call me at 12:45 durin lunch brk.I wil tlk to u n tll u abt the cash 4 the dope. Stop playing dumb wit me or I wil tel ur parents u do drugs.

‘At 12:45, guess who’s gonna be carrying this mobile?’, said he, with a straight face.

I giggled.

‘Stop giggling,’ , said he, rather sternly and offered me the chance to type in ____’s number and press the send button - ostensibly to give me an opportunity to participate in this momentous event. I gleefully accepted the warm, generous offer.

There was, quite predictably, no reply to this message. All we could see was that she was frantically consulting her neighbour.

We handed the phone back to the chap who went back to fiddling with it. Gandhi and I got on with our favourite task of composing lewd couplets about our professor who was waxing eloquent about the vagaries of the varactor diode.

We waited for the golden moment. A couple of times, I noticed a flicker of a wicked smile play on Gandhi’s lips as he talked to me. I didn’t like the smile. But I dismissed the thought from my mind – I decided it would be unfair to blame Gandhi for not having a winsome smile.

‘It isn’t his fault that he’s got a mug like the lower class of mafia don’, I rationalized…

To be continued...