Friday, July 28, 2006

There's something about Nisha - Part II

I had been planning to write Part II for quite some time now, but work – that infernal thing – had its ugly tentacles wrapped all around me. At least when I wasn’t playing cricket or gallivanting across Scotland, that is. And thus, I never got down to completing this saga of undying love…

We were a few months into the eighth standard when Amit decided that what he felt for Nisha was the real thing – lowe. By that time, however, there were scores of people in the ranks of her admirers. There was this chap who used a blade to carve her name out on his forearm, and the three or four chaps who would suddenly become as violent as Zinedine Zidane when Nisha happened to walk past an informal football match. As for me, all I did was glance surreptitiously at her – something I reckon she never noticed (at least I think she didn’t. I’m very subtle).

But Amit was in a class all by himself. He would walk into class about a minute after Nisha did, and keep his head tilted at ninety degrees to the teacher throughout the day. Repeated admonitions (and a few strokes of a wooden scale) from the teachers did nothing to diminish his passion. After about two months of this rather obvious display of his lowe, Amit decided to take the great leap forward.

He walked upto Nisha during the lunch break. Nisha was eating her lunch with that (decidedly plain and fat) girl who stuck closer to her than her shadow.

Digression: The author has never understood this female trait by virtue of which every hot chick has a plain chick hanging around her all the time. This is a truly global phenomenon, and the author has seen white women and Oriental women do the same too. Explanations to this interesting phenomenon will be greatly welcome.

He spoke loudly, like the aan singham he was (and probably still is),

‘Hi, Nisha, eppidi irukke?’ (Hi, Nisha, how’re you?)

This must have been rather perplexing for Nisha, considering the chap had never bothered to do anything but stare at her all day.

‘Er…yeah, well, I’m fine.’

If Amit were one of those smooth Don Juans, he would probably have waxed eloquent on the beauty of the bees, the birds and the smelly brown liquid that was provided us in the name of drinking water. But no, none of that for Amit! He believed in getting to the nub as soon as he could.

And thus, the third sentence that Amit ever said to Nisha was,

‘Aey, naan unnai lowe pannaraendee’ (Hey, I’m lowing you—forgive me, there’s no exact translation of this immortal phrase into English)

As I sat three benches away, trying not to look, I felt as if someone had just driven a road roller over the rolls of fat on my stomach. I visibly winced. Being unaware then of the success rates that porikis enjoyed in the game of lowe, and having watched too many Tamil movies than was good for me, I expected Nisha to break into a demure smile, giggle and run away.

At which point the hundred extras would arrive from Kodambakkam and begin dancing to a tune.

At which point the passion that burnt deep (two layers of fat beneath) within me would be extinguished faster than Bush’s hopes of victory in Iraq.

So, nothing could have prepared me for what happened. Nisha directed at him a stony glare from those green eyes of hers.

‘But I don’t love you, okay?! I’m sick of you staring at me. So kindly desist from making a fool of yourself.’

Upon this, she flounced away, followed closely by her chamcha.

Most people would have taken this most emphatic crushing of their crush to be final. But Amit was not one to give up so easily. He reasoned, with undeniably warped logic, that the problem was the competition.

And he reasoned that the best way to deal with the competition would be to eliminate it.

The guy who took a blade to his forearm was threatened with a fist bigger than his blade if he tried anything in the nature of funny business again. The violent football players soon saw that Amit could be considerably more violent than them.

It was then that I took that ill-fated path of striking a conversation with Nisha.

It was as I was trying to worm her phone number out of her (after having spent 5 minutes discussing the character flaws of our English teacher, and how I had, in spite of his hating me, scored 33 on 35 in the last test*) when a friend asked me to step outside.

It was not a very happy self that waddled out of the classroom. I was about to expostulate on good manners to my friend when he told me that Amit wanted to see me at the playground.

Fear chilled me to the marrow. Amit was sure to threaten me with physical violence, or worse still carry it out. I told my friend to tell him that I had suddenly taken ill, and had therefore decided to go home. I began to run away as fast as I could when I heard quick footsteps following me.

I was not much of a runner. My last sporting achievement of note was winning the frog jump when in UKG, unless one counts the silver plate I won for coming second in the three-legged race in my third standard.

However, I felt that I was running like the wind. But by some freak of nature, Amit jogged past my quivering double chin, and placed a hand across my chest to stop me.

As I bent over double trying to regain my breath, Amit spoke to me (translated version presented for convenience),

‘Dai, I thought I’d told everybody to keep off my girl.’

‘Amit, honestly, I was merely asking her for her notes.’

‘Who are you trying to fool, you lavdae ka baal (pubic hair)! I know you were trying to get her phone number.’

Some bastard was spying on me! I condemned his black soul to the depths of hell (if he’s reading this today, whoever he may be, he may note that the curse still holds).

I tried a last, desperate gamble.

‘Macha, I was trying to get her phone number for you!’

‘Dai, evantaedaa velayaadarae? (Who do you think you’re fooling?) I have her phone number, and I know where she lives.’

That was interesting. I turned to him and asked him interestedly, ‘Where?’

‘Now why do you want to know, you mayir pudungi (means about the same as the swear word above)? You’re trying to steal my girl from me, aren’t you?’

‘But…Amit, she’s not your girl.’

‘Dai, what the fuck do you mean? She’s mine for all eternity.’

Maybe, I thought, I could reason with him,

‘But machcha, she told me that she’s not your girlfiend, and never wants to talk to you in this life or the next.’

If I were a wee bit smarter, I would have known that this was not the most tactful line to take. A lesson lies here for all young boys starting out in life – do not try to convince a poriki of the futility of his lowe. Violence will indubitably follow.

Amit spoke slowly and quietly, through clenched teeth,

‘Oh really? And do you lowe her?’

‘Er..yeah, I kinda like her.’

‘You fat piece of first bencher shit! That was your game all along!’, he screamed.

What followed for the next ten minutes was the most macabre and painful exhibition of violent behaviour I have ever experienced in this short life of mine.

It also crushed my crush forever.


Amit continued to moon over Nisha. He spent most weekends hanging about the vicinity of her house in the army colony. It was on one such weekend that the good Colonel, home on leave after a frustrating few months spent consorting with the Lashkar-e-Tayiba, became aware of Amit’s presence outside. The good Colonel tolerated porikis just a little more than he tolerated Kashmiri militants.

A reportedly painful lesson at the hands of an Army jawan quickly extinguished any lowe that still burnt in Amit’s bosom. All I could think of when I heard of this diverting anecdote was, ‘Jai Jawan!’.

*Yes, I know. I was (and still am) unbelievably pathetic when it comes to chatting a member of the opposite sex up.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

There's something about Nisha - Part I

I’ve never watched There’s something about Mary, but I presume it’s one of those corny romantic comedies about this girl who manages to turn pretty much every single person on. If you’re one of those hard-headed men of business who do not believe in the existence of such women, you are likely to scoff.

And I would have, too. If it weren’t for the fact that I am one of those poor prunes who would make a loss selling ice cream in Riyadh. And more importantly, if I had never met Nisha.

Nisha walked into our classroom in the seventh standard, a time when men were men and hated all women without exception. And therefore, nobody in particular took much notice of Nisha, except to perfunctorily note that she had spent the last three years of her life rotting in that armpit we once called Kashmir.

The only conversation I had with her that year amounted to:

‘Hi, you’re from Kashmir, aren’t you?’

‘No, I’m originally from the French territory of the Afars and the Isas. But I lived in a bunker in Kargil with Barkha Dutt for the last three years.’

‘Ah!! That explains your stupidity, and why you scream ‘I’m calling from a bunkkkker’ in the middle of classes. But that aside, have you ever met a militant?’

‘Oh yes, I have. They are all dressed in black, look like Hrithik Roshan, and walk down high street, a couple of tones of RDX strapped to their vitals.’

‘Ah that’s nice. Your father (a Colonel in the Indian Army) must not have liked them much.’

‘No, not at all. The militants refused to partake of whisky in his company, and did not attend any of the dinner parties he threw.’

After agreeing that militants were the most infernally rude people either of us had ever met, we parted ways. Not exactly the kind of stuff an Indian culture hawk would have frowned at, in any case.


Amit had also joined our class when I was in the seventh grade. Amit was not from Kashmir or Chechnya. He had spent all his life in my school. But he got through the years at a very leisurely pace. He believed that he had to spend two years for every year that less-academically-inclined students spent in a particular grade. This resulted in him being 14 when the rest of us were still eleven.

Cut to: The next year

It was sometime the next year that it happened. It was as I waddled along to school that I noticed a bit of a hullabaloo. Never one to avoid any incident that could potentially turn violent, I rushed forth. It was then that I saw it.

Nisha had begun to wear spectacles!

When some people wear spectacles, they look like Stephen Hawking. Which is all very well if all one wants to do is to be considered an intellectual giant who writes unreadable books that everyone buys anyway. But when some others wear spectacles, they get adolescent hearts to go all a-quiver. Nisha squarely fell into the latter category.

I opened my mouth, goggled, and shut it again. Nisha noticed my imitation of a halibut, and flashed a smile at me. I goggled even more. If I had a goggled a little more, I would have borne an uncanny resemblance to my principal.

I tried to speak to her about the militants in Kashmir, regarding whose social graces we had shared such similar opinions till then. But I could not get myself to speak a single word. I merely uttered a wordless goodbye and tottered away, my double chin quivering rather like Amar Singh’s*.

Though I did not know it at that time, she was, in fact, my first real crush.

If I were the kind of chap who could walk up to a lady and turn her head around with a few well-chosen words, and a cuppa at some expensive coffee pub, it would have been the work of an instant for me to profess my undying love. If, on the other hand, I were the kind of chap who could with consummate ease begin singing ‘Vennilave Vennilave, vinnai thaandi varuvaaya…’ to the object of my affection while standing slouched in a corner, it would have been the work of an instant for me to end up in the principal’s office facing charges of eve teasing.

But I was a gormless wreck who did neither, but instead tried to impress her by scoring high marks in the forthcoming Unit Tests – an endeavour which did not in any way bear fruit. She cared but little for the plump nerd who thought the way to a woman’s heart was through his Unit Test marks.

However, if the status quo had been maintained, I would have been able to resume speaking to Nisha about militants with RDX wrapped around their genitals in a few months. From there to actually getting to know her would not have taken too long.

But it was not to be. For dark clouds had begun to gather over the horizon. Dark clouds that looked suspiciously like Amit…

*Until I discovered what a gymnasium could do to one, I was rather on the corpulent side. If I hadn’t discovered a gymnasium, people would have probably noticed a distinct resemblance to Adnan Sami.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

On Terrible Tuesday...

I do feel helpless very often.

I remember most distinctly that I felt helpless when:

(a) In my second grade, a burly son of a navy sepoy named Sunil ground a seven year old self to the dust on my first day in a new school.

(b) A equally burly sixteen-year-old classmate of mine (a veteran of several failures, in his 6th, 7th, 8th and 9th grades respectively) slapped me accross the face, and threatened me with even more greivous harm if I ever talked to his 'girlfriend', ever again. My repeated attempts to point out to him that his supposed girlfriend had never spoken to him, and had at several occassions in the past, asseverated that she did not wish to ever speak to him, merely seemed to enrage him more (and impel him towards ever escalating threats, culminating in a loudly vociferated threat to murder me, and bury the pieces under the cricket pitch).

But all this is beside the point. I am merely being the flippant, vapid and irreflective flippertygibbet that several people hold me out to be. I can notice that the attention of my normally attentive readers is drifting away.

I can imagine an egg, remarking irritably to the crumpet at the next screen,

'Siddhu is such an arsehole. He never seems to be able to come to the point.'

The crumpet would, then, give a loud snort of assent, and say, 'Yeah, the idiot's trying to be flippant on terrible Tuesday. For the love of Zsa Zsa Gabor, I thought he had something important to say about the catastrophic events in Mumbai.'

The egg would probably go on to make some uncharitable remark along the lines of how he wouldn't be particularly surprised if I had thought that Terrible Tuesday was the name of a lesbian romantic comedy starring Kiera Knightley and Jennifer Aniston (Come to think of it, a movie of this nature could be just what the doctor ordered for blokes with erectile dysfunction. Though the pharmaceutical firm that manufactures Viagra would not be amused on contemplating their sales charts afterward.).

But I know exactly what Terrible Tuesday is. It was as I expended a balmy Edinburgh afternoon on vapidness and irreflectivity that my phone rang. It was my friend asking me if I'd heard of what had happened in Mumbai. The poor chap had been unable to get through to his parents.

I felt like a coolie would have, if when taking his mid-afternoon walk through the rainforest he happened to chance upon a tiger who had definitive ideas of using him for a seven-course lunch. I immediately hung up, and began to try getting through to my uncle who lives in Mumbai.

I could not get through. A call home revealed that neither my parents nor my grandmother were having any luck either. With each successive try, my desperation grew. In order to figure out what exactly was happening, I tottered into a pub, and asked the bartender brokenly to switch to BBC news.

But they were all watching the news already - mouths wide open. As I kept trying, a sympathetic-looking man next to me asked me a stupid question; so stupid, in fact, that I would not have been surprised if he were an American in disguise.

'Who on earth could have done this in India of all places, mate?'

Since I wasn't feeling particularly sunny, and did not feel at all like humouring this retard with a detailed explanation of India's geopolitical climate, I merely told him that it was an incredibly stupid question.

For a second, he was taken aback. And then he spoke, almost in a whisper, 'Do you's Al Qaeda?'

I thought of contradicting him, and telling him of the Lashkar-e-Toiba. But I could not get myself to. I merely nodded my head.

Little did I know that the man was in reality absolutely correct. It was Al Goddamn Qaeda alright!

Cut to: A few hours on

After having finally got through to my uncle and having reassured myself, I watched NDTV in a state of complete shock. I felt more helpless than I ever had in my entire life - sitting 10,000 miles away as my country burned!

As I browsed around, I stumbled upon, a blog created by a bunch of intrepid young lads in Mumbai, expressly for the purpose of assisting Mumbaikars.

It was there that I found a certain person desperately trying to get through to his father. The chap had requested for assistance from others who could try. I decided to abandon my feeling of helplessness, and do what little I could, ensconsced in a comfortable chair in Edinburgh.

And I managed to get through to the chap's da.

The feeling of having contributed to helping my country when it was in distress is a joyous feeling indeed. I feel proud that, today, of all days, I chose to wear the tee shirt with the national anthem emblazoned on it.

I felt even more proud that there were so many stepping forward to help their fellow beings in this hour of need. So without attempting to sound ridiculously corny, I would like to leave whatever readers have stuck with me to this point with a few words spoken by Winston Churchill more than sixty years ago to Britons during the Second World War.

'...we shall not flag or fail. We shall go on to the end, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our land, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender!'

Jai Hind!