Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Je vais en République Française

I realize that I have left the story of my close encounters with the rowdy kind incomplete. But I am currently in the midst of a hectic trip accross Europe on a shoestring budget.

I was away the last few days pinching pennies and admiring the natural pulchritude (not of the two legged female variety, you perverts) in the Scottish Highlands, and hope to write a travelogue down before I forget it all. I visited castles, lochs and bridges. I drove accross scenic beauty spots. More interestingly, I walked accross a very drunk Inverness at one in the morning, searching for toothpaste, during the course of which:

(a) I was mistaken by some poor drunk souls for Ali Baba - at least I think I was, as I quite distinctly heard them referring to Ali Baba as they expressed an ardent desire to speak with me. Though I could have set things right by telling them that I was actually thief #39 in the story, I decided that discretion was the better part of valour.

(b) I had a long conversation at the taxi rank with another drunk soul, who could not stop thanking me for having defeated England in the one-day series. Though I could have set him right by telling him that it was actually eleven completely unrelated chaps who performed the deed, I thought he was happier assuming I was directly responsible for England's well-deserved humiliation.

(c) I had another long conversation with two Englishmen from London at a pub, during which we discussed Kashmir and Northern Ireland, and how they wished they were not English and could actually visit Northern Ireland without being shot at and murdered.

Upon returning to Edinburgh, I spent a night experiencing (after a long hiatus) the Edinburgh nightlife yesterday, during the course of which:

(a) I watched an Arab do a pole dance. Thank you, Mohammed - I am still trying to erase the unsavoury memories from my head.

(b) I watched as a group of overweight Fijians at the next table magically transformed into rugby players from New Zealand as they tried to - unsuccessfully, if I may add - hit on a friend.

(c) I paid £3.60 in a parking ticket machine, only to realize that parking was free after ten in the night.

So it is a rather sleep-deprived young Warrier that shall attempt to wake up in less than four hours in order to catch a flight to Paris.

I have spent half an hour thinking of how I could describe my feelings at going to arguably the most beautiful city in the world. My grandiloquence has, however, failed me. The verbosity that so characterizes me has deserted me like a fickle mistress. All I can say is - YAYYYYYYYY!!!

Assuming anybody is interested in my travel plans (though I doubt if anybody is - however, since when have I NOT bored people with things they would rather not know), I'm travelling to Versailles, Strasbourg and Heidelberg, before returning home.

After which I set out another short trip to set fire to the birthplace of my old tormentor (from my schooldays), William Shakespeare.

After which I plan to expose to the world the gruesome details of the treatment I received at the hands of a poriki.

After which I face the ire of my supervisor.


So, as they say in Deutschland, Fick Deine Mutt... er... I mean, Guten Nacht!

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

A Close Encounter with the Rowdy Kind - Part I

Posterity will have it that I have always been the blameless kind. I never drove a Bajaj Pulsar down a patchy 100 foot Indian road like one would a Hayabusa down the Autobahn. (In fact, I never owned a Bajaj Pulsar, but even if I did, it is unlikely that I would have constituted a risk to traffic) I never did wheelies to get the attention of the ‘figuru’ walking down the other side of the road. My friends never called me an ‘Aan singham’ (Lion) as I serenaded a passing figuru with a rendition of ‘Kann pesum varthaigal’ (The things that my eyes say) while sitting on a footpath with the airs of a Persian potentate. And if I ever referred to a girl I had never spoken to as ‘aen aalu’ (my girl), I was more likely to be met with hoots of derision than a hushed reverential silence followed by loud ‘Machchi, Siddhu weight party da’ (untranslatable from Madras lingo).

On the other hand, I have been, more often than not, a target of the unwashed Peter bashers that abound in Chennai’s college campuses. I had, over the course of the years, learned to turn a blind eye to comments of the ‘Dai peterae…antha figurae wokkariyaa da?’ (Yo, Englishman! Are you fucking that chick?) kind.

But I had, till my nineteenth year, emerged relatively unscathed from my brushes with rowdykind. This is because I kept a studious distance from any (usually pretty) girl who was unfortunate enough to be the recipient of a poriki’s1 lowe.

For those not in the know, the typical engineering college porikki owes his presence in an institution of higher education to the tireless efforts of Arjun Singh, V.P. Singh and others of their ilk. After having got in, they quickly realize that engineering education in India is unfortunately imparted in English, a language that they had studiously ignored for seventeen years. They also find that working as the right hand man of the local neta would have offered them much better career prospects than attempting (bootlessly) to wrest an engineering degree from the powers-that-be. And finally, they find that the girls do not, after all, want to talk to them, in spite of their wide knowledge of every lowe song ever written in the Tamil language. Life is not, they realize to their chagrin, a Tamil movie.

So, in a couple of months, they discover the joy of consuming large amounts of alcohol, and indulging in a genial punch-up with a rival gang after having consumed liberal amounts of the same. Also, they soon gather around themselves a bunch of other porikis.

The time of the year that the average engineering poriki looks forward to with great anticipation is the time when the first years first walk through the portals of the engineering college. Each poriki chooses a pretty girl, and gets off by fantasizing about running around trees with the girl (who will, almost without exception, be clad in a wet saree) – both of them climaxing when he kisses her navel (don’t look at me that way; if one were to believe Tamil movies, a woman’s G-spot is right where her bellybutton is!).

But, into each life some rain must fall. The poriki has, of course, in the name of ragging, called the girl over to the tree where he holds court and had the following highly-romantic conversation with her (while still under the influence of the best of Kandan Wines’ stock).

‘Aey, enna di…Aishwariya Rai mathiri irruke? Won Paer enna?’

(Hey, what’s all this? You look like Aishwariya Rai! What’s your name?)

To which the girl responds with her name. Her considerable irritation and discomfort is a good sign, murmur all of the poriki’s followers. After all, didn’t Asin feel the same way when Vijay spoke to her first in the movie Sivakasi?

‘Seri, naalekku ingae ithae timeukku vaa. Ippo, kalambu, po po!’

(Alright, come along here this time tomorrow. Now, scoot, vamoose!)

The Alpha Male’s performance is met with a raucous round of whistling by the apostles. The general perception is that he has ‘connected’ the chick for sure. In another two weeks, he will be, they say, running around trees with her. In three, he’ll actually be kissing her navel.

But, the engineering poriki is not stupid. He may not understand Digital Systems, and may find Computer Architecture unpronounceable, but he knows that the campus abounds with Peters – Peters whose sole purpose is to steal all the figurus away from him.

Cut to: October 2002

Kaveri was one of those unfortunate young women who had had incredibly romantic conversations with a poriki under the shade of a tree. For Amar – that illustrious stalwart who had driven his Hero Honda Splendor over the arm of a chap who had disagreed with him - was lowing her. Amar was sure Kaveri lowed her too. For had she not quickened her pace and had a tortured expression on her countenance when he serenaded her with that cult classic ‘Vaadi vaadi aen manmatha raasa’.

When a bloke of Amar’s stature falls in lowe, it does not take long for most of the campus to hear of it. In just a couple of days, most of the other guys on campus began to keep a safe distance from Kaveri.

To be on the safe side, I had decided that I would keep a safe distance from not just Kaveri, but any other girl in the first year who did not actually look like a hippopotamus. However, a capricious fate had different plans.

It was a fine day as I was called over by the head of the English department.

Ms. Peters (no relation to the Tamil word Peter) was a wizened old woman who attained puberty the year Queen Victoria ascended to the throne of Great Britain. She had known Gandhi when he was a mere slip of a boy, and Nehru had called her ‘Aunty’. The reader may wonder why the author wishes to make this known, but the author knows not why himself.

And she said, in the familiar, quivering, Convent-accented tremolo, ‘Siddhoooo, we shall be having an open house in a couple of days.’

I wished to interject at this juncture to find out why she wished to throw her home open to visitors, and why she wished to confide in me. But she waved me down imperiously.

‘Schoolchildren from around the city will be coming along on campus to take a look at the research we’re doing.’

‘But we’re not doing any research within a ten kilometer radius of campus, Ma’am’, I objected conscientiously.

‘Ah, don’t cavil, young man! In any case, the English Department plans to have a display, and it is your responsibility to show the children around.’

Though I could not see what research the English Department could be doing in an engineering college where no research is carried out in any engineering field, I did not say anything. I was happy enough to stick around – I probably would get fed for free.

‘Oh, and Kaveri will assist you. You will be working closely with her over the next one week.’

Though Wodehouse has repeatedly affirmed in his books that the human heart does not actually stop, if someone asked me at that moment, ‘Siddhu, the heart never stops beating.’, I would have cast a very dirty look upon that someone and assured him that mine had stopped beating a few seconds ago.

My working closely with Kaveri would definitely come to Amar’s notice, and the results, I knew, would not be pretty.

I resolved to remain cool and distant, and keep a distance of a metre and a half between the two of us. Even Amar, I thought, could not blame me for what was clearly an act of God. But as events transpired, I realized that I had thought wrong…very wrong!

To be continued…


1. Poriki (n)(Po-ri-key): the lowest of the lowest level flirts. Their daily occupation involves standing under trees and acting shady (pun intended) with anything female that walks past, being aware of the latest lowe songs and being able to say lowe. He is also one who perpetually has an imaginary girlfriend – credit for this definition goes to Ketaki.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Siddhu 2025

The other day, I was having an extremely profound conversation with a friend. Or rather, if one were to be more accurate, my friend was attempting to have an extremely profound conversation with me, while I was contributing very little. I often find it difficult to make a dint in profound conversations, possibly because of my vapidness and irreflectivity.

Be that as it may, my friend was asking me if I planned to take a year off after my Masters' to broaden my horizons by travelling around the world. I spent a few minutes explaining to her that us citizens of the so-called Third World (or as we like to call ourselves these days in India, Second World citizens) have not the option of spending a year in the sticks, hunting for iguanas in Nepal and polar bears in Papua New Guinea (or even the other way around for that matter).

The primary problem would be money, and equeally importantly, I would not relish the thought of a job interview after a year possibly spent consorting with Bangkok's comfort women. It was then that she decided that I was a terribly materialistic person - materialistic enough, in fact, to be an American.

Which I do not deny. My creature comforts I relish. However, she started within me a series of deep thoughts as to where it would all lead me to. I began to tell her how I saw my life at the age of 40.

By the age of forty, I realized that I would desire to be saddled with a home with a two-car garage, a beautiful (and hence, vacuous*) wife, one or two snotty nosed little kids, a nice little SUV, a sports bike, and a credit card that would allow me to buy something more than second-hand underwear without overrunning the limit. Maybe a Play Station XVI that I wouldn't let my children touch for good measure.

At which point, I pointed out to her, when life was looking all rosy, I could afford to make the hike to Machchu Pichchu.

As my cogitations continued, I soon realized that the life of an SUV, sports bike and home owner married to a hot woman would not be as wonderful as it seemed to be at first sight, because:

(a) I would be too tired, overweight and careworn to hike to Machchu Pichchu. Besides, my dyspepsia and my diabetes wouldn't allow me to step out of home.

(b) In order to have earned enough to buy myself these little dainties, I would have had to spend most of my youth hunched in front of an LCD screen, leaving no time to hunt for a beautiful wife. Besides, which beautiful woman would want to go out with a geek with thick glasses who incidentally has a paunch bigger than her breasts.

So, I would have to rely on the age-old method that every Indian engineer ultimately falls back upon when he realizes he's not going to get any by virtue of his wit, good looks or charm - ask mum to tap the family network to find that perfect girl.

The 'perfect girl' whom I would find thus would be (a) A Warrier, and (b) Either a hill-billy whom I wouldn't have spoken to under less desperate circumstances, or somebody who would have considered herself too cool to talk to me if we were at uni together, and would have preferred the company of a sociable Rahul Singhania in his dad's air conditioned Tata Safari to the company of a Siddhu Warrier with minimal social skills and a ten year old hand-me-down Kawasaki 4S Champion.

(c) So, by the time I'm 40, I would be too overweight to ride my sportsbike, prefer to have a chauffeur drive my SUV, and have two spoilt brats begotten by a wife whom i can't stand.

(d) And then, to forget about it all, I'd enter into a relationship (if one can call it that) with an 18 year old hooker, and try to kill myself with an overdose of sleeping pills when she runs away with my credit card and buys the Democratic Republic of Congo and two other African republics with it.

(e) But just before I died of an overdose of sleeping pills, my wife would e-mail me to tell me that she had been sleeping with the milkman all along, and that all the hours in front of the computer screen had pretty much sapped whatever little virility I had to start with.

(f) So I'd end up in a funeral pyre at 40, in spite of possessing a house, two of the milkman's children, a sports bike, an SUV, and three African republics.

Cheerful little view of the future, ain't it?


Considering my visage, my minimal social skills, and the fact that I had actually been stupid enough to tell a pretty woman what I thought of other pretty women, my friend didn't disagree with my prognostications at all, except on one count.

She thought that my future wife was more likely to beget the plumber's progeny than the milkman's...

*I expect to be pilloried at the stake by most women for the correlation I drew between beautiful women and their IQs. And therefore, before any pretty woman I know decides to carve my insides up, may I put my hand up to loudly protest that this whole post was just a joke.