Madan's Blog

Game of Thrones Season 5 – What went wrong?

Posted in Uncategorized by madanlmg on 16 June, 2015

 

Yesterday morning, I saw the Season Finale of the 5th season of Game of Thrones. I went online and started downloading the episode, and meanwhile as it was taking more than 2 hours to download, i went to check my twitter with one eye closed. And I was flabbergasted by all the shock in the few spoiler free reactions on twitter that i hastily checked. And then I watched the one hour episode quietly and OH-MY-GOD!

It was cruel. I know it was. Where is the pay-off? Why are all the great characters dying? Why HBO/GRRM, why?

The Starks are never getting back together!!!

Fuck this stupid show.

Let me tell you that for it was what my initial reaction was. I was unhappy of course, but judging by the reaction across the globe, I was not alone.

Let’s pick up the dead pieces and try to grasp all that is there as it is.

<<SPOILER ALERT!!!>>

In Dorne

 

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First of all, my biggest issue was, what the fuck is Dorne all about? There was no need for Jamie Lannister to travel to Spain (Seville I am told) to shoot this seemingly unnecessary bull shit story line which appears to have no meaning since no one useful died. Cercei’s daughter doesn’t ring as a great character, more of a story line distraction. He now has Tristane with him. What would he do? Head back to Dorne and beat the shit out of the people over there for killing his daughter, or go to King’s Landing and give the kid a spectacular death? Cercei wouldn’t be pleased at all with the result!

In King’s Landing

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Okay some people say Cercei is probably the biggest bitch on this show. We all saw her parade naked in the streets, on TVs, on HBO Go and on Torrentz.com. She paraded naked all over the world last night. Perhaps I feel a little bit of sympathy for the devil now. Oh wait, her queensguard looks menacing. His size tells me it might be either Hodor without all the crazy chants, or Brock Lesnar waiting for Paul Heyman.

In Slaver’s Bay

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We saw Arya Stark turn blind. Now what? Maybe, the missing sense gives her heightened senses. Or becomes another animal controlling freak just like brother Bran.

In Meereen

The team of Tyrion, the Unsullied and the queensmaid would be fun to watch next season. It wont be met without resistance, but I am sure the storyline there is good. Unless Tyrion dies too. GULP!

Somewhere in the Wilderness

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Khal Jhaqo’s men finds Daenerys Targaryen alone in the wild. She drops her ring, perhaps as a Hansel Grethel gimmick, or perhaps to disguise herself. Looks like Jorah needs to rush very soon to find the queen. Before she gets raped.

In the North

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Reek and Sansa Stark takes the leap of faith just as her rapist arrives back after making a short work out of the Baratheons.

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Stannis Baratheon had it coming for him, after his daughter was killed in the previous episode just like that.

At Castle Black

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Jon Snow betrayed

I have got only one F’N thing to say. FUCK OLLY!!!

At the Wall

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Carice van Houten (Melisandre) appears to be enjoying her fault.

But I’m happy she ran off to the Wall. She being there points to one thing….

Save us, red magic woman!!! We need you to bring Jon Snow back. Please!!!

 

Overall, I think all stories need a big payback. When all the main good guys fall down like Super Domino, surely there’s a bigger plan. When Walter White died in Breaking Bad, we all mourned for him. But killing him in the middle of Season 3, that would have been terrible. Which is what happened, and hence the backlash.

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Nexus 7: US and India Prices Compared

Posted in Android, Google, Nexus, Nexus 7, Nexus 7 2013 by madanlmg on 25 November, 2013

In November 2013, Google launched the Nexus 7 2013 edition in India. It was better than the 2012 version in many aspects, including the 321 dpi flanked all over the 1920×1200 screen.
I was looking forward to buying the 2013 edition. However, the pricing was a big let-down. It was overpriced, and I could not see any reason as to why Google would let such as flagship tablet be mistreated with this misjudgement in the Indian market. Here’s a small comparison to show the magnitude of overpricing.

 

Model

Google US Price ($)

US price in Rs.

Google India Price (Rs.)

India – US Price (Rs.)

2012 16 GB Wifi

165

10,348

9,999

-349

2012 32 GB Wifi

188

11,816

11,999

183

2013 16 GB Wifi

229

14,363

20,999

6,636

2013 32 GB Wifi

269

16,872

23,999

7,127

2013 32 GB LTE

349

21,889

27,999

6,110

The Nexus 2013 models have each been inflated at about Rs. 6,500 above the US prices. It was a huge disappointment for me. I thought a lot about it and finally gave in.

I got a 2012 model instead. 🙂

 

Google Nexus 7 2013 Price in India

Posted in Android, Google, Nexus, Nexus 7, Nexus 7 2013 by madanlmg on 3 November, 2013

The Google Nexus 7 2013 Edition is releasing on 12th November 2013, and I am planning to buy one. On checking the Nexus 7 Webpage for its price, I find this very odd looking price description.

03 Nov 2013

The Asus Google Nexus 7 2013 on Google India

The prices are shown in 2 currencies, US Dollars and Indian Rupees!!!

I dug this down further on. At current rates, the price would look like this.

Source Firefox addon Simple Currency Convertor

Price of Nexus 7 2013 in INR at current US Dollar- Indian Rupee conversion rates

I looked up the prices for the 16 GB and 32 GB prices on Google UK websites and tried to calculate their costs, as the Nexus would not be as cheap outside the US. I came to the conclusion that the 16GB version would cost approximately Rs. 17,304 and the 32 GB version would cost Rs. 20,781.

Maybe, they would price it at Rs. 17,499 and 20,999!!! 😉

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Delina

Posted in Uncategorized by madanlmg on 23 February, 2013

Canon Service Centre – Delhi

Level 4 Camera Service Center
UNIT NO. – 219 TO 224, 2ND FLOOR, NARAIN MANZIL, BARAKHAMBA ROAD, New Delhi
New Delhi –
Delhi

Contact Person : Monender Sharma
Phone : 011 – 47192600
Email : monender.sharma@canon.co.in
Camera service centre

Important Documents:
Delina Important Documents

The Road Not Taken

Posted in Poem by madanlmg on 26 April, 2012

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear,
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I marked the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

 – Robert Frost

The Dinner

Posted in Verona by madanlmg on 1 April, 2012

Yesterday had been a great day. I had had the most amazing date with the girl. I had known her and had liked her for a very long time.

She was so sweet and adorable during the date. The date had been great, perhaps because we had known each other for a long time, and only recently had I got the courage to ask her out. Maybe, it was the friendship that we had had before, that we both found each other so comfortable with. Whatever it was, it was real, memorable and lovely.

The comfort had taken the conversations late into the night. The next day, driven by the ambition to get in shape for her, I woke up early and jogged a lap too many. So it was no wonder, that by 2 pm in the afternoon, I was feeling like going home for a quick nap.

I slipped off from office at around 3 pm. After buying the regular 2 packets of milk and a loaf of bread for the couple of spoilt pet dogs that my sister owned, I headed home for a quick afternoon siesta before the late night discussions started again.

As soon as I got off the car at home, my mobile rang. Her name was displayed across the screen.

“Hi, dear,” sang the sweet voice. “Are you still at the office?”

“No. I came back early,” I said. “So what’s new?”

“Nothing much,” she said. “My brother is calling a party tonight. And I am cooking. Would you mind if you could come to my place? I want you to have some of the curries I cooked today.”

“I would love to, dear. What is it?”

“Chicken and Mutton curry. Does mom eat meat?”

“Mom eats fish but does not eat meat.” I explained. “And Delina does not eat mutton.”

“Ok, then I will include some fish fried and chicken curry.”

Wow! “That would be great!”

“Ok! Come here at 5:30 pm. Cya!”

“Bye!”

Just then, I saw my mobile battery dipping to an all time low battery display indication. I went inside the house and tried charging it, but it just wouldn’t accept the bipolar power feed. It was time to visit the mobile repairing shop.

Reluctantly, I started the car engines, but not before calling her up.

“Hi, dear. I am sorry but I might be stuck up in a mobile repair shop.”

“What happened?”

“My mobile is not working. Will get it repaired here.”

“Ok. I have a spare mobile. You could have it if you want.”

She was amazing! “Sure, why not? I could use it for a while.”

“Ok, then around what time are you coming?” she inquired.

“Around 5 or 5:30. I will call you up before leaving.”

“Ok, cya!”

“Take care.”

After talking to the mobile repair shop, I went to her place. As I was still an unknown entity to most of her elderly family members, I could not afford to show up at her gate without any reasons. Hence, our meeting place was the usual secret back gate at the neighbour’s house.

She came, wearing a funny naughty little smile. She was dressed in her home attires and looked amazing, as usual. Maybe, one of the many things which I adored her for was that she looks beautiful and charming in anything that she wore.

I got out of the car and talked to her. She gave me a large tiffin, a mobile and its charger. We bade goodbye and I drove home soon after that.

On my way back, I began to wonder how the hell I was ever going to explain the curries to my mom and my sister, who was also one of her good friends.

Let me explain to you what the problem was. Before I had started seeing her, my sister and she were already good friends. Hence, I was quite reluctant to reveal to my sister who the mystery lady was. I wanted things to be really strong between us before my sister got word that her friend and I were now more than just friends.

Mom opened the gate for me. As I drove into the garage, I hit upon a plan. I cooked up a story that would conceal it all, at least for now. I took the big tiffin-carrier and showed it to mom.

“What is that?” she enquired.

“I met one of my friends at the mobile shop. He had a son recently, and asked me to join him for a party today,” I explained. “You remember Vikram, the guy from Khurai who got married last year?”

“No,” mom shooked her head.

Very good. “He organised a drinks party today. I was planning not to go, but then, I met my friend Jhaljit outside the mobile shop. He was heading for the party and he asked me to come along, as many people were not coming. At Vikram’s house, Vikram welcomed me with open arms, and since he knew that I did not drink, he gave me this large tiffin. He asked me to take it home and enjoy it with my family.”

Mom examined the container. “What is inside this?”

“I don’t know.” I confessed. “Let’s go inside and find out.”

After changing, I came downstairs. My sister was more inquisitive than my mother. After I had told her the same details, she said, “but didn’t he get married recently?”

“No,” I lied. “It was last year, around this time.”

“Oh well, let’s open up the containers and find out what is inside. I am starving.”

She took the carrier and unscrewed the top lid. She pulled out a set of four tiffins.

The first one was fried fish, for mom. Actually, it was an Alisha fish that she had fried.

The next two were Chilly Chicken, and it reminded me of the Chung-Fa dinner I had had with my sisters in Pune back in 2001.

The last one was Mutton Curry. The aroma filled the room so well.

Mom looked at the fish and said, “The family must really be happy about the new son in the family. This is excellent cooking.” She tasted the dish. “And this tastes great. Why don’t you tell me more about this friend of yours?”

So I continued to cook up more stories about this ‘family’.

My sister looked at the chicken. She looked suspicious and sceptical. She said, “I think this was made in a nice restaurant. It looks like the work of a professional cook, probably at Classic’s, or some nearby restaurant.” I smiled inside. It was nearby, all right, just a couple of stone’s throw away.

“But why did they give so much?” she inquired. “Just look at the size of the tiffin!”

“Well, today is a Tuesday, so most of my friends didn’t show up. So they must have thought that the food was going to go waste.”

“Whatever the reason was, the person who gave you this likes you a lot. I hope that God blesses that family with a good future ahead, with lots of children and happiness,” said mom and she took a second bite.

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Night and Day

Posted in Office by madanlmg on 31 December, 2010

Chapter 1: Black bags and White boards

Ever since I had joined the company, life had become a living hell. Work came only at night, and so we had to go to office at night. Night for us was day for the people overseas, the people for whom we worked, our real bosses. Some people had jokingly suggested that they should employ owls and not humans.

Sometimes I wondered how nice life would be had the earth been flat. There would not be the problem of half of the world being asleep while the other half was awake. Everyone would go to work at the same time and come back home to sleep at the same time. But that was a utopia and I would again often wonder how many people thought of the same thing.

I checked the things I had to carry. Mobile, purse, employee tag and bag. I took a look at my black bag which I had bought on new year’s eve.

A week ago, Ramesh, my college friend had come to Kolkata. He was amused by various aspects of my job. Read this e-mail he sent to our college mates after he paid me a visit:

Capture
[silentorators] The Most Professional Guy I have ever seen!

Friday, June 23, 2006 1:04 AM

From:

“Ramesh Bullinari” <urs_ramesh007@yah00.c0m>

To:

“Pondicherry Engineering College Computer Science Class of 2005” <silentorators@yah00gr0ups.c0m>

Haaai!

Hope u are fine.

Recently I went to Kolkata and was staying with our Madan Gopal who is working in a software company at Kolkata.

At 9.30pm he was going to Office (Night Shift!) with an Executive Bag.

In fact he was looking very Professional with the Bag.

I was very eager to know what it has. Then he showed me what it had.

Side Zip: One Comb and One Mirror (If he suddenly happens to go for a Movie!).

Main Zip-1: Pamphlets of Restaurants (to avail food if he feels hungry!)

Main Zip-2: One Blanket (to sleep!) and One Towel (to use it as Pillow!)

It was very funny to see that.

Madan has not left his good habit of criticizing others and even now the main victim being (Ganjaa) AP.

I had nice time staying with him.

Have a nice day!

Bye…..Ramesh

My black bag had been immortalised among my friends by Ramesh! I adored it.

As I stepped into the cab, I recalled this e-mail in my mind. I looked at this bag. I remember the day I bought it from a shop at Calcutta’s famous College Street. It was the New Year’s Eve of 2005 and I was looking for a really nice bag to treat myself. I had bought a couple of books along too. Even today, I can recall all the adventures it had been in, used as a carrier for laptops, getting drinks for college friends during their stay at Kolkata, used as an umbrella when umbrellas weren’t available, giving gifts to my friends. I smiled to myself.

I looked at the watch and it showed the time. 9.40 pm. I called up the other guy in the shift. They told me that I had to pick up a new guy called Deep. Too bad!

You see, I am not against new people coming into our project. I hated the KT part really bad.

KT stands for knowledge transfer. It means teaching the new guy who just joined our project about what we do and what we don’t do. There were a lot of undocumented procedures going on in our project but nobody had made an effort to document for others’ convenience. The consequence was that some guy in the same shift had to tell the new guy what to do if this happens, over and over again. Sometimes the consequences were even more macabre, there would be nasty e-mails from the lords overseas.

After picking up the new guy, the cab reached the office at around 5 minutes to 10. It was going to be a long night. Amidst myriads of cubicles in the half empty floor, Rahul, the shift member we were about to replace, greeted us from his chair with his ever smiling face.

“Ok, Deep! Meet Madan!” said Rahulda.

“What the hell? I just picked him up!” I retorted.

Rahulda smiled. This guy was one of the good persons in our project. He and Soumya were always trying to be in the same shift. So when I turned around, I saw the other Bengali character.

“Oye Madan! Saala, KT Expert! You are going to give KT to this new guy?” beamed Soumya.

“Don’t remind me of that again, man! And I hope there are no escalations tonight!”I said blindly.

“What is KT?” inquired Deep.

“Some really good food!” and we all laughed.

After I explained what KT meant, I looked into the watch and said, “If you two guys aren’t going away any sooner, I will leave the office and get home.”

“Not yet!” said Samrat. He was the other guy in my shift.

Samrat was another Bengali in our shift. He was a good hearted guy and I used to make up jokes about him and Manoj (another Bengali) and he used to laugh at them all the time. Both of them were always in the office and I used to say, “Bete, the both of you are so dedicated with your work that you both will become dogs one day!”

Samrat came and sat down in the cubicle behind me. I sat down with Deep and started to teach him the seemingly tough job at the RSO Project.

I will tell you what RSO means, for the understanding of this term are crucial to this story. RSO stands for Remote Service Offering. It means that the technical support that we provide to our customers is given away from the actual location of the hardware installation through the use of the internet.

The night went on and morning came and it was time for us to leave.

After a few days, Deep and I became quite good friends. I didn’t expect this to happen, but very soon, during tea breaks, like college buddies, we mutually started cursing at the company, cursing at the project and cursing at the kind of work we do. Jokes and curses, and jokes and curses. Once in a while, we talked about our bright past, our not so bright present and our bleak future.

It was on a Friday night that my night shift for the week was getting over. After completing our thankless tasks of updating an endless number of Excel sheets, I got up and looked around. It was like 3:30 am late night/early morning (whichever you may call), that we completed our tasks for the night. With nothing left to do, we started walking around the cubicles, looking for stuffs to laugh at, mimicking our bosses and so on.

Finally, we came to a pillar where a small white board was hung and on it was written some big words in Red.

“‘RSO NOTICEBOARD’? What is that for?” asked Deep.

“That is a supposedly ‘useful’ board that no one actually uses.” I said with an ironic voice. “It is a board to write down a list of pending works in brief so that anyone in the next shift can look at it and complete any unfinished task,” I said. “Well what do you think?”

He took a closer look. Somebody had scribbled a marriage congratulation greeting to a shift member who had got married recently. Deep said, “Well, this is bullshit. This looks like a board on which nothing useful is ever written.”

“Exactly!” I said. “This is the most useless piece of shit idea our manager has ever conceived.”

We all laughed.

I rubbed it off and took a whiteboard pen and started drawing a picture. I still don’t know why I drew it but it was a picture of a monkey in front of a computer. The name I wrote was a generalised “RSO Shift member”. After I finished, we had a good laugh and I started rubbing it off with the wiper. As I wiped it out, I got another idea and wrote a couple of words on it.

“RSO SUCKS!” We had a hearty laugh and went upstairs. We took sips of coffee and continued our talks about our bright past, our not so bright present and our bleak future.

And oh, I almost forgot to tell you. I forgot to clean off the whiteboard.

Chapter 2: Trial and Error

Conference Room 6D was a wooden enclosure. Made of beautifully constructed yellow wood furniture, the room resembled a Hollywood movie conference room. In spite of the small area on which it was built, it was designed to hold at least 10 people without a feeling of congestion.

The door opened and the 3 senior most members of the section entered.

As soon as the three sat down, our manager entered the room. She bore an annoyed look on her face, one which would look like a spoilt child who had lost her favourite toy.

Number 1, who was the senior most, asked “When did this happen?”

Our manager said, “Somewhere between the night of Friday and today morning. Suddho noticed it in the morning. And that is why I called this meeting.”

Number 2, who was the most interested person in such petty issues asked, “Who could have done?”

Our manager gave a look of annoyance yet fear of authority and said, “I suspect 3 people. In the order of suspicion, we have listed Madan, Subroto and Soumya. I am quite sure any one of them could have done it.”

Number 3, who was the smartest, asked, “Have you compared the handwriting?”

She replied, “The words were written in capital, and we have no way of comparing it with the people in the shift. We all use computers and not pens to write our e-mails.”

Number 3 said, “I have a plan. We will call up each and every one of the suspects in your order of suspicion. We will call up the least suspicious person first and ask him the queries regarding this misbehaviour. If found guilty, we will take stringent actions against him.”

Number 2 agreed. “That is a solid plan. Let’s do it right now.”

Number 1 thought for a while and said, “All right, whom are we calling first?”

Chapter 3: Beyond the Call of Duty

Soumya was at the shopping mall when the call came. He was looking for a new pair of jeans. His old one had been used and reused so often, that he now felt that it was time to get new one. He had come along with his friends, with whom he was planning to watch a new movie after this shopping was complete.

He had tried on his new pants and was looking into the mirror when the call came.

: Hello.

: Hi this is Srinivas Reddy from RSO team speaking.

: Hi Srinivas! Kaise hai tu? How are you? Bol.

: PM wants to speak to you. Here…

The voice changed and it was a stern voice speaking. It was the project manager.

: Soumya, this is the PM speaking.

I Know!

: Yes. Please tell.

: Were you in the shift during the weekend?

Why don’t you look in the shift roster and find out, you dumb dummy?

: Yes. Saturday and Sunday morning.

: OK. Did you write anything on the whiteboard?

Soumya dropped his jaw and the old pants from which he had taken out his mobile. He had seen the writing!

: Soumya, are you there? Are you there?

I must be strong, I must be strong.

: No.

: No?

: No madam. I didn’t see anything written on it.

: Well, did you see anyone writing on it?

: No.

: OK! Somya, have nice day!

And she hung up.

Soumya stared at his mobile for a long time. Then he unlocked the keypad and dialled a number. The friend was in trouble and he needed to help him. Soumya’s mobile provider was Tata Indicom. In those days, its network sucked in the local area. No signal, damn it! He tried calling again and again as the shopkeeper and his friends looked at him.

The shopkeeper was wondering whether this guy had forgotten to bring his debit/credit card. He gave a signal to the showroom assistants to ensure that this boy did not run away without paying for the jeans.

His friends were wondering what was wrong again this time in his project. Such phone calls were becoming routine. They checked the time. The show was going to start soon and Soumya had better hurry.

Suddenly, there was a surge in the mobile signal, and the phone rang.

Chapter 4: The Friend Behind Enemy Lines

I was getting ready to go to the latest English movie running at INOX. It was called ‘The Departed’. There were great reviews about this movie in the news, so I had to see it. As I reached City Centre, the centre of Salt Lake City which was the IT hub of West Bengal, my mobile rang. As soon as I picked it up, the call was cut. It was from Soumya.

The old Nokia 1100 must be goners, I thought, and I decided I required a new mobile phone. The new one must be having a camera and a music player, like all my friends are having nowadays. It should also have…

The Mobile rang again. The Good, Bad and Ugly ringtone I had on my mobile since college reminded me that there is a thing such as office. I saw that the caller was the office project phone. Must be that damn backup problem again, I thought.

Which is why I didn’t pick up the mobile.

I reached the theatre and waved at my friends who had gone in an earlier auto. I hoped down and as soon as I did, I saw my mobile ring again. Once again, it was the office project phone begging me to pick up.

“Who cares?” I said and I went inside the movie mall.

As I was about to enter the theatre, the mobile was ringing again. Annoyed, I pulled out the mobile and as soon as I was about to put it into silent mode, I saw that it was Number 1.

Number 1 and I were close friends. He was the most helping guy I knew at office and there was not a single reason why I would not pick up his phone.

I quickly came out of the entrance to the hall which was now streaming in with cinema goers. I pressed the “Receive the call” button and among the crowd I could hear his voice. “Madan! It’s over! It’s all over!” There was excitement in his voice. I couldn’t make out whether he was happy or whether he was scared.

I asked him, “What happened?”

He said, “Somebody wrote some bad words on the project wall. You know who it was?”

I froze. The incidents of friday night flashed in my minds once again. The coffees, the jokes, the donkey I drew on the wall, the “RSO SUCKS”.

“’RSO SUCKS?’” I said.

“Yes, you know, they say they have caught the person who did it!”

My stomach sank. It was like a living nightmare now. I felt lost in the crowd entering the theatre that had now become like a huge stream of river coming towards me from all directions. I was in a sea of confusion and a rage of uneasiness.

The noise was now drowning out the sound from my old mobile phone. “…. says he did it!”

With a shaky voice and amidst all the noise, I asked again, “What? Say, what?”

Chapter 5: The Unfortunato

Subroto was drunk again that evening. He was thinking about Sabyasachi, his friend who had got married recently. He sounded very happy.

Subroto checked the time. It was late. He should be going for night shift tonight again but the temptation to take some shots of wine was there. After all, the nights were lonely.

Suddenly, his mobile rang. The room shook with the sounds of the latest Bengali rock-pop song. He took up his mobile.

: Hello.

: Who is this? This is the RSO PM speaking.

Subroto received a sudden surge of adrenaline and regained some consciousness. His voice became clearer. Her voice became shriller.

: Hello, PMdi, aami Subroto bolchi. Ki Khobor?

: Subroto, I want to ask you a question.

: Ok. Bol.

: Were you in the shift during the weekend?

: Yes. On Thursday night, I was there.

: OK. Did you write anything on the whiteboard?

: Yes.

: YES?

: Did YOU write those particular words on the RSO whiteboard?

Subroto was getting annoyed with this line of questioning. She was asking questions on a simple trivial matter. It was the usual crap she pulled with everyone.

: YES!!! What is wrong with that?

: What is WRONG with that? We will talk about that tomorrow morning! Be here at 10 am. Sharp!

And she hung up.

Subroto just couldn’t get her. The PM always seemed to be angry with everyone. What is wrong with congratulating a friend on his marriage?

Chapter 6: Hidden Meanings

“What? Say, what?” I asked.

“Subroto said! He said he did it!”

And Number 1 started to explain that Subroto had accepted that he had committed the serious crime!

How could Subroto own up such an act? Then I remembered that he must have written the words I had rubbed off before I had started the joke that night.

I thanked God and prayed to him for saving my skin.

“By the way,” continued Number 1, “I know who did it. It was you, wasn’t it?”

My heart sank. “Yes, but I meant to rub it off. It was a small joke between me and a friend.”

“Easy brother,” said Number 1, “your secret is with me. Don’t do it again.”

I felt relieved. “Sorry dude. I won’t do it again, I swear. I swear to God I didn’t do it with purpose!”

“By the way, office was fun today. All the bosses were confounded as to who must have taken the guts to write such a thing on the floor where the Company CEO sits! By the way, I like your philosophy. I wish there were more whiteboards where people could say what they had in their minds. See ya!” and he hung up.

I checked my shift roster. I had a night shift that night with Subroto and Deep.

I got to the office at around 9.40 pm. Subroto had arrived earlier.

He asked me, “What is wrong with wishing a friend who is getting married.”

“What did you write?” I asked innocently.

“I wrote ‘Congratulations to Sabyasachi on his marriage’ on the board. PMdi didn’t like it at all!”

I looked at Subroto. The guy was a nightmare when it came to working together. He would be a great pain in the ass with everyone but me, because I didn’t let his bullshit bother me. Anyways, it was time for me to save this guy.

“But there was something else written.”

He looked at me, and said, “What was written?”

“Somebody wrote ‘RSO sucks’.” I said, biting my lips. “Subroto, was it you?”

“Why would I write anything like that?” he cried out. “What exactly does that mean?”

“‘RSO sucks’ means that RSO is a really bad thing. Honestly, don’t you know the meaning of ‘suck’?”

“No!” And he quickly opened his Mozilla Firefox, the IBM approved browser at our office and Googled out the word ‘SUCK’. He later called up the PM to tell her it was not his fault.

Unable to hold our laughter, Deep and I quickly ran out to the corridor. The poor guy didn’t even know the meanings of the words which he had supposedly written.

I laughed, “ He doesn’t even know what ‘Suck means’!”

Deep too laughed and said, “That was great! What do we write next time?”

The Adventures of the Mohicans: Reasonable Bets

Posted in School by madanlmg on 23 March, 2010

‘But I don’t want to go among mad people,’ Alice remarked.

‘Oh, you can’t help that,’ said the Cat: ‘we’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.’

‘How do you know I’m mad?’ said Alice.

‘You must be,’ said the Cat, ‘or you wouldn’t have come here.’

– Lewis Carroll in “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland”

Chapter 1: The War of the Mohicans

“SAMADULLAH KHAN! BE CAREFUL!”

That was Mr Srikanth, our class teacher. Mr Srikanth was a bulky man of the early 30s, wearing sun-tanned spectacles and a nice suit with a matching tie, every single day. His tie was tucked neatly onto his shirt with the help of the metallic clamp of a pen cover to the inside using the openings between the buttons of his shirt, and his oily hair and his well polished shoes were done so nicely that you could always see the shine, even inside the classroom. He brought along with him various charts to discuss various topics in the class. Among other activities he used to do were some weird ones such as singing inside the classroom, specially the songs sung by Chiranjeevi. And even though we laughed a lot at his songs, he didn’t stop, for he liked his songs much to be bothered by students laughing at him. One of his normal regular activities was taking attendance for the whole class, for he was our class teacher, and this is where our story begins.

Mr Srikanth was our Zoology teacher. Even so, every morning at the beginning of our classes, he calls the attendance and kicked off the day. All science students take two subjects out of Biology, Mathematics and Computer, and most non-bio students were thus always restless during his attendance call. I now looked at the brotherhood of evil geniuses, the self proclaimed “Mohicans”, Kivi and Joyjit.

If there was trouble in the school, there was always Kivi in sight. Kivi, ‘the Nagaland boy’, as Mr Srikanth usually called, was the naughtiest boy in the class. If you asked the Principal or the Headmaster who was one boy who started all sorts of trouble, it would be always him. Always him! His name was always associated with trouble but the funniest part was that he thought mostly of them as adventures and not as trouble. He would often bet with everyone and would inadvertently do really funny stuffs. He would run off to the nearest dhaba at night for food and stuffs for himself and for everyone back at school. He would often get caught and why not? The risks involved were far too meagre than the possible rewards.

If there was trouble and if Kivi was not involved, then Joyjit was surely involved. 347/V (V for Vindhyachal, Red House) joined school immediately after me, 346/V. I still remember the day he joined school for he was looking awkwardly at the dal and rice and he was thinking, this is food? The next day he was running off to eat at dhaba at night with Kivi for ‘real’ food.

Joyjit was eagerly waiting for Roll number 7. Roll number 7 was Indibar, a new guy. Everyday, Joyjit would wait till Roll number 5 and ask for a pen or borrow a book from Roll number 7. Today it was a ‘dropped’ book and Joyjit called Indibar and asked him to pick up the book he had earlier conveniently placed behind him. Mr Srikanth got mad as usual. Here was one guy who wouldn’t remember his roll number every day! How stupid these kids are nowadays, to not even remember their own roll numbers!

The whole class laughed at this stunt. We all knew that this was bound to happen every single day!

I turned around and looked at the two best friends, Samadullah Khan and Iftekhar. Words cannot describe what these two idiots had drawn. They were drawing Srikanth in an auditorium, singing an old Chiranjeevi hit, ‘Nee Snehum, Ikkaradu Anni…’ I took some inspiration from them and started drawing another one. After I finished, I showed it to Samad and Ifty, both of whom made a small noise. Mr Srikanth hopped with madness and screamed!

“SAMADULLAH KHAN, IFTEKHAR ALI AND MADAN GOPAL LAISHRAM! BE CAREFUL!”

I didn’t expect this and stopped my drawing and started looking around inconspicuously.

Romendro and Probin were discussing something that Probin probin overheard and apparently didn’t like. Piplani, the pipe, and Deepak, the stunt-master, were also thinking of playing Jim’s ‘Dave’ or Ahmedullah’s ‘Prince of Persia’ in our computer lab. Nancy, Chanchal, Hanou and Sandhyarani all looked like they were writing last minute letters to their parents. Asha and Bembem having finished their roll call looked more serious than usual. Shanta, Sandhya and Thadoi were talking to Kivi about something. Deepa and Reshma were spinning their pens above the joint between the index and thumb in a really annoying manner I never seemed to master. Romendro was almost asleep next to Lunkhomba.

In a short while, the attendance was over and we were back to our senses.

“SAMADULLAH KHAN! GET OUT OF MY CLASS!”

After they left, an extremely boring lecture about the three parts of the human small intestine, Duodenum, Jejunum and Ileum started, and we were half awake. The only person who seemed to be concentrating was Lunkhomba aka Telemachus (Pre-Class X name).

After 40 minutes that felt like 40 hours, the bell rang, and Mr Srikanth left us for good. The next class was Physics, so all the Science students came back inside. Probin, Kivi and Joyjit came inside together, Probin sandwiched between the two jokers. Just behind them was Samad.

“So what does a kullu joke mean?” asked Kivi.

Samad said, “‘Kullu’ joke means a dry joke. A Kullu joke is a joke on which one does not feel funny after hearing, but he must laugh for the joke of it being a joke! An example would be the great Ant and Elelphant joke. Have you ever heard of it?”

“No.” I said.

“Ant and elephant decide to play hide and seek. Ant goes out to hide and elephant comes to seek. Ant runs into the temple to hide, and elephant comes to know…how? Ants slippers are left outside.”

We all laughed, for this was the dumbest joke ever!

Thadoi said sarcastically, “Joke? I should laugh? Ha, ha. We call that a dry joke or an akangba phagi!”

Kangba means dry. Kanga means a swan, and that was what was exactly on Joyjit’s mind for the next thing he said was,

“You know what? I saw a flock of swan yesterday evening. It was near our school toilet complex. It was huge and strong.”

Kivi, who was used to arguing with Joyjit for anything and everything, said, “I once caught a swan alive. I had to let it go because I thought I saw Mr Abraham coming towards me near our dormitory.”

Mr Abraham was our school head master. He lived in a building near our dormitory building and the covalent pair of him and Mrs Abraham, our chemistry teacher, was the most respected pair of teachers in our school.

“Haha, Kivi. You thought you saw, huh? You thought you saw. But you didn’t, did you?” jumped in Romendro, who was jumping into the hot discussion.

“You all are idiots! I did catch the bird. You didn’t catch one yourself, so you are saying like that!” Kivi was getting angry. “I don’t have to prove anything to say that I once caught a bird.”

Joyjit said, “He is right, he did catch a bird. He once caught hold of his own ass and thought he caught a kiwi. Who cares?” Romendro and Joyjit laughed at him.

Kivi then said, “I caught a bird barehanded, you dumb babbling blistering buffoons, and if any of you two idiots can get to do the same with that shitty swan, I will give you anything you want!” He was getting so mad that we could see veins popping out of his forehead.

“I would never do it for free.” said Joyjit. “Give me a reasonable bet and I will catch a bird with my bare hands.”

“If you catch a bird barehanded, I will give you my bowl of chicken, this Wednesday evening. If I don’t catch the bird by Wednesday, you will get me your bowl of chicken that evening.”

“Anything you can do, I can do better! Throw in two cigarettes and 5 packs of gutkha and I will call it a deal!”

“That is reasonable enough for me! Deal!” said Kivi, silently, and the two friends shook hands like real gentlemen. What was so gentlemanly about that deal, I still don’t understand.

“Ssssssh! Mrs Madhavan is here.” Mrs Madhi was our Physics teacher.

And so the deal was made on that fateful Monday afternoon. No one had any idea of the series of events that were to come.

Chapter 2: The Bird’s Hive

It is not easy to describe the pair of Joyjit and Kivi. Sometimes they were the best of friends while at other times they were the worst of enemies. Very rarely did the two act against each other and these were one of those rare moments.

Word was out that an unusual deal had been struck. Amongst us, Chingkhei was the most interested.

Our friend Chingkhei had a funny habit. Usually, Chingkhei always gave an effort to clean the bed, folded the blanket arrange the books in proper order, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, everything arranged in the most orderly manner. Finally when it’s all said and done, he would open a book, study for a while but soon put his forehead on top of the books and sleep off in the most orderly fashion!

Chingkhei often had real determination. Endless hours were spent debating against Kivi, both of whom tried their best to claim the ownership of the Dzuko valley, a disputed area between Nagaland and Manipur, and often these arguments got so heated that on more than one occasion, I felt a fight was about to start. During the school sports competitions, his school house was without good runners and he would often come last during the race, but what the hell who cared even if the rest of the people had finished running? He would complete the race in an empty track amidst a laughing crowd. Another real gentleman!

He was the one who usually fought against the pair of Joyjit and Kivi over trivial matters. If Chingkhei drew Joyjit as a monkey and passed it to the whole class, the next day, the first thing the girls would see would be a caricature of a pig titled Chingkhei on the blackboard.

So when he found out there was a bet going on, he got excited and the next thing he suggested was putting down the whole bet on a bond paper and signing with ink or thumbprints.

“Joyjit, you are going to catch a bird with bare hands, huh? Ha-ha!”

“Yeah, that’s true! And I will also be getting an extra bowl of chicken, gutkha and cigarettes too!”

But deep inside, Joyjit was worried. It was Wednesday afternoon and there was no sign of any bird near the toilet complex.

On Wednesday evening, Kivi was so happy. It was time for some happy meal. Joyjit said, “Lets look one more time and we’ll see if I catch a bird.”

“Go on, early man!”

So Joyjit led the way to the toilet after prep. Chingkhei, Kivi and Romendro followed the way. After double checking to see if either the teachers or the girls were coming, Joyjit started climbing the complex.

It was not that easy. It was dark and the moonlight was the only source of light that showed him the way up was the lights from the inside of the complex. After half a minute he was up the complex.

“Give me a torch light.” Kivi handed him one.

No sooner did Joyjit turned the torch towards the dark areas above than he saw the most terrifying thing he had experienced in his life. For there stood just 5 inches above his head, a big round and dark sphere, with perfect hexagonal grids, designed to hold up the food of the deadly creatures that dwelt inside. It was a bee hive.

Quietly, Joyjit crept and came down. He was excited and spoke quietly to Kivi. “There is a bee hive!”

All the deals of the past three days vanished into thin air, for the two Mohicans were now friends once again. Immediately they took up a sense of purpose of destroying the bee hive to protect their classmates from danger and they started attacking it with some large stones.

As it was dark, the bees had no clue that they were being attacked. Within a minute, the bee hive was down and the three amigos ran off towards the mess hall.

“But what about the bet?” asked Chingkhei. He wanted to see the two kick the shit out of each other.

“Both of us win! You give us the treat!”

“Why? I was not even a part of the bet!”

“Well you didn’t write down on paper, did u? If I remember correctly, you now owe us 2 chicken bowls, 4 cigarettes and 10 gutkhas!”

“You son of a mangy dog!”

A long argument ensued and the three went to eat dinner and forgot all about the deal.

But back at the complex, the queen bee was furious. The worker bees now worked even harder to find a much better site to build a new hive. And raise fighter bees to protect their home even better.

Chapter 3: The Warden Demented

That was in spring. Summer came very fast in our school and we all went home. However, the Mohicans seemed to know how to spend time well enough. During the vacation, Joyjit anticipated a heavy monsoon and started searching for three things, the largest umbrella in the world, the best cassette player in the world and the best emergency lamp in the world. Where do you go for that? Of course, the Moreh Market!

The Chinese products in the Moreh Market dominate the Manipuri market in most areas. Each year, you could find the newest and most amazing products at the cheapest prices. Joyjit went to the market to buy those three stuffs. Instead he got two stuffs, an umbrella of about six feet diameter and an emergency lamp cum cassette player! Pretty soon, both objects became the talk of boys’ dormitory, the pride of Joyjit and the envy of one and all.

Kivi on the other hand brought pickles of all sorts from his grandmother. He told her about the bee hive in school. He in turn heard stuffs about how to save oneself in case of a bee attack.  Knowledge is power (according to our legendary icon and rocket man APJ Abdul Kalam) and Kivi was rejuvenated with new visions to save himself from all sorts of bee troubles.

When we came back to school, the Class 10 and Class 12 students were the first to start their classes two weeks prior to day one of the students of the remaining classes. With a view towards getting good marks in the board exams, extra classes were conducted in the mornings and the afternoons were left free due to the heat.

We also saw that our warden had changed. I don’t remember his name, but everyone at first started calling him ‘Taklu’, Hindi for bald headed guy, much like Telegu ‘Gundu’ (as in Gundu pagali poddi) and Manipuri ‘Koktang’. Since he knew the first two words well, we evolved to calling him Koktang.

After a few days, the warden came to our dorm and asked Joyjit for the two objects.

“I’m confiscating that cassette player. You cannot use it inside the dorm. Causes distraction to all the students,” said the warden.

“But sir, it is my only table lamp. I use it to read my books,” said Joyjit. “How will I study?”

“I don’t know! Go buy a fluorescent lamp like your friends. Not this distracting machine.”

“The school does not allow me to go out and buy stuffs. And anyway, I didn’t bring money from home.” Money was not allowed inside the dorms. “Do you think you will get it for me?” said Joyjit.

“I will see about that,” said the warden and he went off.

However the day never came when we saw the confiscation of Joyjit’s tape player, I mean the ‘table lamp’. It was always a funny argument about having no permission to go out to get new lamp and no money to buy the lamp. Frustrated, the warden turned to Kivi.

“Kivi cupboard always smells like pickles. I think Kivi has pickles inside. Open your cupboard.”

Obligingly, Kivi opened the door but the pickle was never found. The warden left shaking his bald head and grudgingly. “One day, I will catch these two jokers. I will catch them and teach them a lesson, for sure.”

After he left, we asked Kivi where he kept his pickle. He showed it to us. It was behind his shoes.

Chapter 4: A Bigger Bet

The next day, a new rule was announced. Not more than 4 shirts, pants, bed sheets and limited number of all stuffs were to be allowed in the dorms. Everything else was to be confiscated.

“What a dumb rule!” Samad complained on the way to the school toilet. “That Taklu wants to torture us!”

Ifty said, “Don’t worry. We will make his life a living hell!”

“How? I don’t think we can outdo him at that! Maybe we should act like ghosts at night!”

“Or, better still, scream like railway vendors ‘Puri, Puri! Chai! Garma Garam Chai!’ in the middle of the night, near his doorway!” and they both laughed and went inside the toilet.

Through the window, they could see Kivi walking towards the toilet. Suddenly he stopped and froze, as if he saw a ghost. After a moment of staring at the toilet, he ran back to the classes.

“What was that?” asked Ifty. “Kullu stunt, perhaps!”

“Let’s go find out!”

Our class was filled with a lot of people when Kivi broke the news.

“Bees in school! Bees in school! Let’s go kill them!”

Rajesh, the boy with the biggest nose in the class jumped up from his seat and said, “Where is it? Where is it? Let’s kill ‘em all!”

“Calm down, Nakku!” said Joyjit. “It is a ridiculously risky task. People could get hurt!”

Nelson, the boy wonder with a pouting Schwarzeneggeristic lower jaw, said, “Then what are we waiting for? Let’s go!”

Kivi cautioned, “That’s true.  Anyone who wants to join the bee attack will have to swear on oath that he must not report it to the teachers.”

At that moment, some of the girls who had heard what we were talking about got nervous and left. Others came towards us with worried looks on their faces.

“Kivi paktaba,” said Marina with a worried yet angry voice. “What the hell do you think you are doing? Enough of fooling around in school!”

“And you two!” said Deepa, pointing her finger at the two other leaders. “Romendro and Joyjit, you two know better than us what would happen if the trio of you makes another bad decision. This is the dumbest plan you people have ever conceived.”

“Leave us alone!” said Nelson. “All we want to do is have some fun. We will throw some stones at the bee hive and run like mad. That’s all! Nothing else!”

“Somebody’s gonna get hurt real bad!” said Reshma. And the three girls left the class for their dorms.

After they left, I said, “We should have a prize for this competition. Whosoever gets to destroy the beehive completely should be given a fitting prize!”

Chingkhei said, “Anyone who destroys the bee hive will receive a pickle from Kivi and a whole day’s use of Joyjit’s cassette player!”

“I will kill anyone who touches my pickles like I kill bees!” said Kivi, but no one listened. Joyjit, who had a boil on his right arm that day, was too weak to even complain. This generated a lot of excitement among us and we walked out of the class with eagerness. After a while every boy from our class was assembled in front of the toilet, ready to attack!

Samad and Ifty who were watching us from a distance said, “These people are really kullu!” and they too headed for the boys’ dorms.

Chapter 5: The Hitmen

The school toilet is a two part building. One part is for the girls and the other part for the boys. The roof is about 8 feet from the toilet floor. Sometimes in the evening, on the way, we would find snakes slithering around in the dark.

The bee hive in question was situated about 20 feet above the ground. But due to the risky nature of the job, we stood about 40 feet away from its vertical drop.

“All right people! It looks like we have to attack in style. We all have to throw the stones at the same time. The bees won’t know what hit them.” Kivi was acting like an authority on bee attack strategist.

We all picked up stones from the ground and got ready.

“Ready? One, Two, FIRE!”

Stones whizzed passed the bee hive. Most stones flew below the bee hive. None hit the hive!

“Come on, we can do it! One, Two, FIRE!”

I looked to see who was shouting. It was Rajesh, the big nosed boy.

“Once again! One, Two, FIRE!”

WHIZZ, WHIZZ, WHIZZ, PHAT!

There was a hit. Although I suspected it was Romendro who hit it, Chingkhei claimed the prize by making a funny sound which felt like an owl hooting loudly. But the person who was making even more noise was Rajesh, who screamed, “LAGA, LAGA, LAGA!”, Hindi for “We hit it! We hit it! We hit it!”

Most of us continued to throw. I was so bad at throwing that I decided I would have more fun watching the others throw than me throwing. Everyone screamed and laughed every time there was a hit, not because of the fun we got out of hitting, but because of Rajesh’ loud voice.

“LAGA, LAGA, LAGA!”

The sight was memorable. Homer, who had a sinus problem, was giggling, sniffing and running around for fear of getting bee bites. He would stand nearby when others were throwing, but would immediately run towards the school buildings once there was a hit. Nelson with his long Leonardo hair was trying to do his hair and his throws at the same time. Chingkhei ran like a crazy man towards the school area every time there was a hit. Chand and Somy were the shortest among us, and even though the beehive was high up in the air, they had to stand in front of us just to get a good glimpse. Kivi who was the leader of the pack didn’t move at all, showing leonine fearlessness. Joyjit, who in the beginning had considered staying out due to his boiled arm, could not stand missing the action and joined the attack.

Suddenly Probin came running out from the toilet, screaming at us to stop attacking till he got out of the way. He ran off towards the boys’ dorm.

We all paused for a while and laughed. Then we continued.

Suddenly, the bee hive made way and a part of it fell down. We scrammed for our lives and ran to the dorms. We all came back safe.

“That was fun! Let’s play this game everyday!”

“You people all act like kids!” said Probin, who had come back earlier and was now applying yet another Home-Shopping brand pimple curing cream on his face. “One of you could get really hurt!”

The next day, on the blackboard was drawn a Suppandi, and a speech balloon said, “LAGA LAGA! THE HIT-AND-RUN GAME!” Below it was written, “Rajesh”.

Chapter 6: Samad’s Misadventure

The next day was no different. Having learnt that many people were playing a dangerous game in the afternoon, the girls and some of the boys avoided the area in the afternoon. It soon became a sort of an entertainment programme for the Class 10 and Class 12 students.

On the second day, long after the game had finished with no casualty so far, Joyjit paid a visit to the school doctor in the afternoon. With a boil in his right arm, the latest adventure had caused the boil to inflame a lot more. Using a pink bandage borrowed from Romendro to hold in the mess together, he went to meet the doctor.

The school doctor was a man with a Charlie Chaplin mustache. Titled by other teachers affectionately as The Gentle Giant, he was the tallest staff members in the school. With a stethoscope around his neck, he closely examined the boil on his arm and shook his head, visibly displeased.

“I told you to avoid any sort of exercise on your right arm. What have you been doing?” asked the doctor.

Joyjit bit his lips. “I have been practicing for the district level hockey tournament. I am in the school team you know. The coach does not want me to miss a single match.”

“Tournament or no tournament, you need to rest your arm. Show me your tongue.” And the doctor shined down a torch light down his throat.

What has my tongue got to do with the boil, thought Joyjit, but he kept quiet.

“Take this tablet twice a day. And come tomorrow again.”

Joyjit left the hospital and took a closer look at the tablet. It was a tablet called Nice, the same tablet he gave to the rest of the school for all sorts of diseases, be it dysentery, headache, and other minor diseases.

Oh well, what have I got to lose, he thought and left for the water tank area to take a drink along with the tablet.

As he neared the tank area, he saw that a strange scene was taking place. Piplani was running after Samad and Ifty, and Piplani was hitting them both with his chappals.

“Hey Pipe! What happened?” asked Joyjit.

“Joyjit, help me,” panted Piplani. “Bees are chasing them both!”

Joyjit immediately took up his chappals and started hitting Ifty with them.

“Hey, the bees are not chasing me anymore,” said Ifty, and the three started hitting Samad.

“Ow, ow, ow!” Samad was no longer sure whether the pain was coming from the bees’ bites or the chappal shots. At the end, Samad was badly roughed up by the three boys. They took him to the school’s sick bay. The doctor looked down his throat, as usual, quipped a comment about the bad weather condition and gave him a pair of Nice tablets, the same one that Joyjit had received earlier in the day.

Later that night, Joyjit and Kivi came to our room. After briefly taunting Jammy’s stiff drying clothes which they referred to as Naan, the conversation turned to new strategies to destroy the bee hive.

“Today we have learnt that two of our friends were attacked by the bees. Now you see why it is so dangerous to have bees in our school campus. Bees could kill!”

We all nodded in agreement.

“So now, we have decided that it is our duty to get rid of the beehive. Without further action, the bees could hurt much more people than we can ever imagine.”

“I once saw on TV a documentary about bees. They don’t bite if you don’t move,” said Kivi. “So if you are in bee trouble, do not move at all, just stand ground.”

“What kind of crazy advice is this? Are you sure?” asked Romendro.

“Yes I am sure! I even heard about it from my grandmother.” Kivi did not mention that the sole source of that wisdom was his grandmother. It would be too funny for the boys to hear that he was referring to her wisdom and not to some scientific fact, and hence, the lie!

“Do what you want, but I will be running like mad again if the bees attack tomorrow.”

Samad and Ifty came in the room.

Ifty said, “Hey Joyjit! Do you have that umbrella with you?”

Joyjit said, “It’s in my room, behind my cupboard. Why do you need it?”

“I am making myself a bee-protection device! I am coming to kill those beastly bees tomorrow!”

Samad was wearing his blue house t-shirt but on his shoulder was a red house t-shirt.

“Hey Samad!” said Romendro. “What do you need that losers’ shirt for?” Our house, the red house, had a habit of always finishing fourth in the house ranking system. Or, in other words, last!

“Ifty and I think that the bees won’t attack if I wear a bright color, similar to flowers.” And they left.

That is a sight I won’t want to miss, I thought.

Chapter 7:  The Bees and the Frogs

For Ifty and Samad, the next morning classes seemed to take like eons. Samad was wearing his new red shirt below the school uniform of checkered blue shirt and Ifty was stroking Joyjit’s umbrella impatiently. After the new Mathematics teacher relieved us of differential calculus, we were at freedom in the afternoon.

The afternoon was not like any other afternoon. It was probably the best afternoon ever in the summer. It was neither too hot nor too humid. Due to this fact, apart from the regulars, many people gathered around the tree and hoped for an entertainment.

The girls were being either too paranoid or too smart.

“Kivi, be careful,” said Deepa.

Bembem too was worried. “I know you won’t listen to us, but still I beg you for your own good, leave this silly idea.”

“Ok, ok, now wait a minute!” said Romendro. “Don’t be a spoil sport. Leave us alone.”

“We WILL leave you alone!” glared Marina. “I hope one of you get a really bad sting! Just to get a lesson!”

“And I hope all of you do get a sting each!” said Deepa angrily, and they left for their dormitory with their warnings.

With the girls now out of our way, it was time to play the hit and run game. “Let’s play LAGA LAGA!” shouted Rajesh, jumping up and down, in the same tone Amitabh Bachchan would say, “Let’s play KAUN BANEGA CROREPATI!”

The first flurry of stones went. None hit.

“COME ON! YOU CAN DO IT!”

“Rajesh, stop shouting and let us concentrate!”

The next round went. None hit.

“COME ON YAAR! YOU CAN DO IT!”

“Scream one more time and I will cut off your big fat nose,” screamed Kivi.

The next round of stones flew. One of them hit the bee hive.

The sight of a bee hive being hit is a marvelous sight. I cannot tell you exactly how it looks, but once a stone hits the hive, the bees become a group, like an iron hand. And once it chooses a path, the group follows the leader of the soldier bees and zooms towards its direction.

Luckily the bees only hovered around and stayed there for a while.

The next hit proved to be fatal. A large chunk of the beehive, about 3/4ths of the whole beehive, fell off. The bees noticed us and headed in our direction. “RUN!!!”

As we all scrambled towards safety, I looked around for a place to take refuge. I was quiet shocked at the methods my friends used to escape the bees.

Nelson and Homer who were the fastest runners among our lot had run off with a head start. I couldn’t see their faces but I could see Nelson’s hair jumping up and down, and Homer was again giggling awkwardly at those people running behind them, sniffing his sinus infected nostril vigorously. Rajesh who had been jumping up and down was now running at full speed. Chingkhei was running awkwardly behind him at break neck speed and overtook him, but not without hitting him with his outstretched arm. His outstretched arms were like those of Maurice Greene at the ribbons of the 100m Olympic final of Sydney 2000, where he won gold.

Ifty had opened up Joyjit’s umbrella and was using it as a shield against the flock of bees. Although it worked at first, it was unable to shield him from the bees coming from behind. So he closed himself inside the five foot diameter umbrella, thus covering two and a half feet of himself in it. He got some bites in the arms. Unable to stand the bee bites any longer, he ran inside the staff members’ toilet which was situated nearby. He saw Joyjit and Romendro locked inside and so ran off to the other safest place, the girls’ toilet and locked himself inside it.

Samad and Kivi were the unfortunate victims. Samad had worn his red shirt and along with Kivi was following Kivi’s dumb advice of standing still when the bees attacked. One by one, the bees came and hit them. Unable to bear any longer, both of them ran towards the water fountain and it was here that the bees subsided and left them. They sat down and looked at each other. Kivi had got a few stings on his back and the forehead and Samad had some on his arms. Later when the doctor came, Joyjit too went. Joyjit went to treat his big inflamed boil which had burst again and was now again a big mess.

“You really need to stop playing hockey! I will talk to the principal regarding your hockey matches.”

“What hockey? Oh yes, I talked to him. Coach is giving me off for a week.” Joyjit lied.

“He should. Kivi, show me your tongue.” And the doctor shined his torch down his throat.

Later, when the three friends came out of the sick bay, they each had a couple of ‘Nice’ tablets each in their pockets.

Kivi’s forehead became a mess. The area around his temple where the bite occurred became reddish and he was whimpering in pain the whole afternoon. In the evening, he did not attend prep class.

“What happened to Kivi?” asked Marina anxiously, looking at Samad’s arms and imagining Kivi’s condition. “I hope he is all right.” said Deepa.

“He is all right,” said Romendro. “He just needs some rest, that’s all.”

The next morning, Kivi came back to the class. The girls who had been waiting with worried looks were now trying to control their giggles. Suddenly, Marina came into our classroom and took a look at Kivi.

“Kivi, you look like a frog!” and she started laughing.

The whole class burst into laughter. Kivi indeed resembled an overgrown frog!

Chingkhei said, “Two frogs in the class! Don’t forget Samad!”

Kivi sulked and looked angrily at everyone laughing at him. He got up, hummed his favorite song, a Sugar Ray single called ‘Every morning there’s a halo hangin …’ and left for the library.

The idea of bee hunting was suddenly a foolish one. We no longer wanted to risk looking like a frog. The craze to kill bees had suddenly gone. Something had died.

Later in the afternoon, I took one last look at the bee hive. Some boys had hit the remaining part and there was a brown bit of hive still stuck, but too small to be of any interest to anyone. I took a stone and hurled at it.

I missed again. My aim sucks.

Chapter 8:  Blackout

The seasons became pleasant and the days became better. Our dormitory became an entertainment room of all sorts. Every night, people came up with new ideas just for the fun of it. Some people brought comics into night preps, and our dorm teacher-in-charge, Sir Mukesh a.k.a. Muku dada, never found out that what we were reading attentively during the night prep was a Tinkle comic. After he left, there would be regular card games and the bet was that the winner gets to whip the loser’s arms once with his two fingers with such great speed and force that it would cause temporary pain and inflammation. When the warden saw this, he got rid of our dormitory room doors to make it easier for him to catch us playing cards.

Another activity was to get papayas from the jungle, make chutney with a lot of chilies and mix them and enjoy it among the whole dorm. Since the food was less, the taste was really good. The warden would come running in after the noise and would smell something ‘fishy’ but he would not say anything, for the food was over, and without evidence or proof, how could he catch us?

Mock wars were another activity. Paper rockets were built with enthusiasm and mock rocket wars broke out between the Science faction and the Commerce faction. Old notebooks were torn down and carefully turned into rockets and when both side were ready, two opposite rooms were segregated into Science and Commerce, and the battles took place. Since the warden had taken down the doors after our card games, everyone was always an easy and open target. Soon, the tips of the paper rockets were upgraded from plain twisted tips to gummed tips which meant that on the tip, gum was applied and when it dried, it made the hits really painful. This was soon upgraded to superglue and superglue caused such damage to our skins that we ourselves stopped the wars.

Probin and Jammy were among the few who chose to opt out of this fun. It was only a matter of time before ideas were hatched to aim the jokes at those who didn’t take part in the fun. Thus, Jammy and Probin became regular targets. There would be a mock fight between Romendro and Lunkhomba and one of them would act like they got hit and would fall flat on Probin who was reading a Tinkle comic.

Jammy had a funny cupboard. It had a big hole at the centre where some seniors had once used as a port for connecting electric wires of the table lamp to the socket behind the cupboard.

Joyjit made this the centre of attention one day. He looked in through the hole and screamed, “Ticket please! Hey, Jammah, ticket please!”

“Joyjit, get lost!”

Kivi joined in. “Me too. Two tickets for me and my dog, Chingkhei!” And he pulled Chingkhei’s pinkish nose and ran off towards the door-less door.

Chingkhei who had been laughing till now saw that we all were laughing at him. He turned red and got up and took up his chappal and threw at Kivi and Joyjit. “You bloody …”

No sooner had he thrown the chappal than the warden came into our room. It flew and missed the warden by inches.

“What is this? Who threw that? Kivigho and Joyjit, why are you not at your rooms? And look at the time. It’s 1 am! No shame at all! Chahh!”

The next day he went and told our principal, Mr Madhavan, that the boys were making a lot of noise at night. There was another discussion in the school that day. The school electric bill had come to a little over Rs. 35,000. The school managing director was such a Scrooge that he decided to install power control switches in the dormitories.

“That’s a great idea. Let’s do it!” said the warden happily.

The next week, while we were at school, electricians came and attached a switchboard in the warden’s room, from where he could control the electric supply. Except for the fans in all the rooms, electricity in every room could now be controlled by the flick of a switch. “This was really such a great idea!” he thought, “Now I can sleep peacefully at night!”

Chapter 9:  Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door

The next evening, the warden could not wait to turn off the lights. At 11pm sharp, which was his ideal time to get into bed, he turned off all the lights in our rooms and closed his doors and windows and went to sleep.

We all got together and chatted for some time below the fans, listening to some old Guns n’ Roses songs on Joyjit’s emergency lamp cum tape player. These two, the fan and the tape player, were now the only working electric device in our dorm. Unsurprisingly, the topic of discussion was the warden who, at the moment, seemed to have scored a point over us. Unable to bear the darkness any longer, we all agreed that the best way to kill time in the dark would be to wage war against the darkness.

In the middle of the night, the warden was woken up by the sounds of knockings on the door.

“Who is there?” He asked and got up.

Wooooo, Bhoot!” wailed Homer.

“Chai, Chai! Garma garam chai!” screamed Lunkhomba.

“Puri, puri! Dus ka bis! Dus ka bis! Puri, puri!” piped Nelson.

Romendro jumped in behind them. He was wearing a blue house shirt and black jogging pants and had tied a dark quilt around his neck so that he resembled Batman in the dark. Joyjit was walking around in a blanket with his hands raised, and in the dark, he looked like a really tall scary man. Homer who led the pack took the bell which was used to wake us up for exercise in the morning and opened the window and threw it inside his room. With a weird laughter, he and everyone except Joyjit and Kivi came running towards our room. As it was dark, Homer made no effort to hide himself. He made sure that the warden saw him running inside our room in the dark. All that the warden could see in the dark was that someone wearing a red house T-shirt had thrown a bell inside his room and had now ran inside our room.

The first person the warden met was Alvite, who was drinking outside. The warden had no clue that even he was involved, so he asked, “Alvite, who was the boy in the red shirt who ran that way?”

“No idea, sir! It was too dark to see!” he said with ruthless sarcasm.

The warden came running inside our room. I hastily jumped into my bed, turned to my left and closed my eyes. All of us were acting as if we were asleep.

“Who was that?” He shone a torch at each of our ‘sleeping’ faces.

After he had taken the beam off my face, I slowly opened my left eye, and looked across the room. The warden was now looking at Nelson’s face. Nelson looked as if he was trying to stop himself from laughing in his dreams.

“I know it was not Joyjit or Kivi! They do not belong to this room!” He screamed angrily. “I know it was one of you eight boys. And he was wearing a red T-shirt.”

We all acted as if we didn’t hear him. I opened my eyes a little further and saw to my amusement that Homer was now wearing a green shirt, which had reduced the odds of him being a probable perpetrator of the crime to the minimum.

Romendro opened up his eyes and said sleepily, “Sir, could you please turn off that light and let us sleep in peace?”

“I will not go until I find out who did this …” and he never completed his sentence for another sound of the bell crashing could be heard from his room. It was definitely Joyjit and Kivi this time.

The warden ran off towards his room. He arrived a moment late. So he took his chair out and sat in the dark, waiting for us to return. We called it a day and went to sleep, for real this time.

Chapter 10:  La Noche Triste

The warden had now found out that keeping his doors closed at night was such a bad idea, for he could not catch us with the doors closed. If the rascals had to be caught, he had to keep his door open and catch them during the escape.

The warden’s room had 3 partitions. His bed was kept in the innermost partition, while the switchboard to control the dormitories was kept at the outermost partition.

That evening, we again got together and discussed the possible measures we could take.

“Maybe we should all take a leak inside his room.” suggested someone, and we all laughed at the idea.

“We could also take out the hostel fuse.” another suggested.

“That would be a double edged sword. How will we use our electric fans if that ever happens?” asked Lunkhomba.

“I have a better plan.” said Nelson. “Now that the warden has kept his room open, all we needed to do is wait for him to go to sleep! We enter the room quietly, turn on all the switches on the control board and come out as quietly as possible! That is it!” We all agreed on this.

The next night, Kivi went to his room and waited for him to snore at least 20 times. Once he felt safe, he entered the room.

The room was dark and it took some time to adjust. He saw the warden’s shape on the bed first and turned his back on him and looked at the control board. Slowly he saw the shapes of the switches. He took a deep breath and turned on the first one. To his horror, it lit the warden’s room immediately.

Fortunately, the warden did not wake up. Kivi quickly turned it off and turned on the remaining switches. All the rooms in our dormitory were now lit and Kivi sneaked out quietly. Once again we were enjoying electricity at night.

The next morning, after a good night’s sleep, the warden found out that the lights were on the whole night. He was so angry that he brought an extra cot and kept it near the switchboard. That room now became his bedroom.

This was bad news for us. We couldn’t now go to his room to make noise or turn on the lights.

Kivi said, “Desperate situations call for desperate measures. We must not give up immediately.”

The next evening they called me and a couple of other guys and opened up the switchboard to their room. We all discussed what connections could be made to make the lights come back to our rooms.

Electricity is not exactly rocket science. We looked at the circuit connections and found out that the fan connection wires were still partially black taped and could be easily removed. I suggested that if one of the wires could be cut and joint to this fan wire, our mission would be successful. The next instant, to my horror, Kivi was working fervently with bare hands on the black tape and unwounded it and joined the wires I had suggested. For a moment, I thought, what if my suggestion was wrong? Fortunately for us, after a spark or two, we saw the room light up! We applauded and congratulated ourselves on this achievement.

Later, Joyjit and Kivi came to our room too to fix the connections for us.

Electricity at night was now available at two rooms. All we had to do was wait for the warden to go to sleep and then turn on the lights. The juniors who had no clue what was going on came to our rooms at night to either study or chat with us, for in the dark, what useful thing could you do? These were the happiest rooms in the dorm.

After a couple of nights, Jim and Gems, our classmate who stayed in a room upstairs, came to me for getting the lights ‘fixed’ in their room too. This time, I went with Joyjit, and with full confidence we redid the connections. Their roommates, James Albert and Anil Abraham, our headmaster’s son, looked with open jaws at us working fervently. At that moment, I thought, what if Anil told his father about this. But all doubts in my mind were cleared once I saw the happy faces in their room once the electricity connection was ‘restored’. At that moment, I felt that Anil was not the headmaster’s son but our dorm friend who resented the blackouts as much as we did.

Later that night, after I came back to my room, the warden suddenly entered our room. He looked shell shocked to see the lights in our room, as if it was a magician’s trick. He went back to his room to see if the switches were actually still off and came back.

“How come this light is on?” he inquired.

“We don’t know sir.” we said with blank faces. “It was like this always.”

“Why didn’t you tell me I cannot control the lights in your room?”

“The lights were working, so there was nothing to complain.”

“Why is the switchboard in his room not able to control only your room?” he said to himself and left.

The next day, good news came. The managing director had decided to revoke the blackouts. After some parents complained about the blackouts in our dormitories, the MD had no choice but to restore the electricity.

The next night he reasoned that Kivi and Joyjit were the people behind all the troubles and swore to himself there and then that he would catch them red handed one day.

Chapter 11:  Centrifugal Damage

Winter came and went along. The seasons changed and it was spring again. The flowers looked lovely and blossomed, and the weather became nice once again. Lovely times, I tell you, for we sang songs like,

“We had joy, we had fun,

We had seasons in the sun.”

However, our glory days at school were coming to an end. Board exams drew nearer and the usually lively atmosphere in the dormitory changed to that of a gloomy one. People now rarely talked to each other except during the night tea time where everyone updated each other about the topic they were studying and how much still remained. Even the Mohican pair was silent nowadays and very studious. Jammy and Probin had tilted their cupboards so that they would not be visible to others’ gaze, thus creating semi private rooms.

Lunkhomba, the Munnabhai-to-be, read with his eyes half closed all the time. He would often pick up a really thick Biology book, lie down on his bed open it sideways and read it sideways. This position was extremely tough to keep awake and he would inadvertently fall asleep sooner than later, but not before setting an alarm on his alarm clock 45 minutes later. 45 minutes was a time duration he often talked of as a ‘sleep cycle’, where a person’s brain takes rest, and should a person complete this 45 minute cycle, he would experience complete rest. However, the person who would be waking up to turn off his alarm clock would be Homer, who would set it to a time another 45 minutes later and wake up the sleeping Lunkhomba, who would wake up with a jerk and look at the alarm clock for 10 seconds and then fall asleep. This happened every day until Homer one day set his alarm clock to 5 am, and Lunkhomba woke up and regretted having a long night’s sleep.

The night tea time was always fun. There would be absolute silence till the mess workers came with the tea jar. Once they came, everyone would start screaming, “Chai, chai, garma garam chai!” And the rest of the dorm would begin a mad rush for a cup of tea.

It was at this time that the Mohicans would come back for a funny stunt. Once, they had drunk their tea and came to our room with empty bottles.

“Hey, Homer!” I said. “What is the difference between Centrifugal and Centripetal forces?”

“In rotation,” said Lunkhomba hurriedly, before Homer could speak, “the inward force that holds the object in is called Centripetal force. The outward force that the body experiences during rotation is called Centrifugal force.”

“Brilliant!” said Joyjit. “We will now show you a live demo of these two forces.”

He pointed his finger at the fan nearest to Probin and spoke. “You see that fan? That is a rotating body. Now, the fan is rotating. Yet the fan blades do not jump out. Why?”

Kivi said, “Centipetal force. I have been reading a lot!” And he smiled.

“Now you see that the centripetal force does not contract or swallow up the fan blades. Why?”

Kivi replied, “Centifugal force!”

This lecture was leading to something fishy. I could smell it but I didn’t know what it was till the next moment.

“So,” Kivi said. “If I now throw an object into this fan, what would happen?”

Joyjit took his water bottle and aimed for the fan. “It would get hit and fly off!’

Kivi went slowly for the door, “And why?” We all lowered our heads.

“Centifugal force!” And Joyjit threw the bottle at the fan.

The bottle flew and hit its blade. It banged back and took a tangential path and flew into Probin’s semi private room.

“Ouch!”

Probin rushed out of his room. He was rubbing his forehead and wilting in pain and looked around angrily. He saw the pair of fools run away and ran after them. We all laughed at this scene and momentarily forgot that our Biology pre-boards exam was to be held the next day.

Chapter 12:  Showdown in the Pines

The next day was Biology pre-boards. We all studied a lot together. Trying to remember the ridiculous plants and animals names was fun, for we remembered the most difficult names by relating them with things in our day to day life. For instance, PMAT was an anagram for Prophase, Metaphase, Anaphase and Telophase, the four stages in Mitosis and Meiosis. Hyaluronidase, an enzyme, was remembered as Hi-Alu-Ronnie-Days.

As we all walked back to our dormitory, I remember how we discussed the Biology paper Sir Srikanth and Sir Shivandand had set for us.

“It wasn’t so easy as I thought,” said Lunkhomba. “Even so, I hope we all get good marks.”

Homer said, “Hey Lunk! What is the botanical name for ‘rice’?”

Lunkhomba said, “It is Oryza sativa.”

Homer said, “Shit, man! I wrote something else.”

Behind, I heard a groaning sound. I looked back and saw Jammy swearing to himself. He had also got it wrong.

“I got that one right,” Nelson jumped in, “for I remember Cannabis sativa. You know what that means?”

We all shook our heads like fools. Proudly, he said, “Ganja!”

We all laughed and went inside our dorm.

Kivi and Joyjit didn’t take Biology. So they had had their whole day off and were waiting for us in our room.

“Guess what?”

“What?” asked Romendro.

“We found a bee hive today!”

Suddenly our dorm was filled with bee hive fever.

“We were waiting for you people. It is at the top of that tree,” and he pointed to the tree outside my window. It was near out hostel toilet complex.

“We took the liberty of calling Samad and everyone else. They are preparing for the final conflict! Here they come!”

Samad was dressed from top to bottom in a black dress and had a huge stick in his hand. Ifty had no stick in his hand but had 2 Baygon’s Spray bottles in both his hands. Rajesh came in next and started blabbering. “Even the warden has left for the city in the morning. What are we waiting for? Let’s go, yaar!”

I looked outside the window again and felt too scared. Something was not quite right.  I wished everyone would stay back, but all went outside. I was alone in my room. I double checked to see if all the mesh frames installed across each window were down. I sat down near my window and looked outside.

The toilet complex is a semi circular building. The tree in question was just behind this building. The beehive was near to the roof of the building and although it was small, I could see it was buzzing with activity. My attention was diverted by the screamings of Rajesh.

“COME ON YAAR! WE CAN DO IT! COME ON, DIKHA DO!”

And the first few stones were thrown.

Chingkhei screamed, “I HIT IT! I HIT IT! DID YOU SEE THAT? DID YOU?”

Nobody replied. Everybody prepared the next shoot.

Rajesh screamed, “LAGA, LAGA, LAGA!”

The boys from other classes too joined the action. About 20 people were now in action. Due to the sheer number of boys in action, it took like just three minutes before the bee hive was broken down and the bees zoomed in all directions and everyone was running like mad.

Although many people got bit, for some unknown reason, it was again Samad who was in the maximum receiving end. I watched in horror from my window as he tripped and fell in the ensuing escape run. The bees surrounded him and I could see a large cloud of black storm converging into Samad’s black dresses. Although I could see that the jacket was protecting him for some time, I knew that it was only a matter of time before the bees broke down the barriers. I looked back in the dorm and saw some people coming back into the room. I screamed, “Everybody! Help Samad, he is down!”

Joyjit, Kivi and Ifty went running back to help their friend. They watched speechless for a moment and then Ifty took out the two Baygon sprays in his track pant pockets and said, “Let’s use this!”

Bees are, after all, insects. Ifty and Kivi took each bottle and started spraying on Samad. The boy was completely covered in the aerosol spray and was coughing vigorously. After spraying for about thirty seconds, he was good to go.

Kivi and Joyjit came back and asked for a matchbox. While Probin was taking out a matchbox, I saw that a group of Class X students had returned back to the place and had thrown a large stone at the bee hive and they had run off. The bees formed a large group and flew away from us. I wondered where to, but that evening, we would learn that an old man had been bitten by bees on the road.

Kivi and Joyjit returned to the site. Finding that the bee hive was now empty, they climbed the toilet building and got to the top.

The beehive’s internal structure is a densely packed matrix of hexagonal cells made of beeswax, called a honeycomb. The bees use the cells to store food (honey and pollen), and to house the “brood” (eggs, larvae, and pupae). The Mohicans made use of the fact that the beehive was made of bee wax. Joyjit sprayed the combustible spray into the beehive and Kivi took a lighted match stick and introduced it into the beehive.

As they were torching the beehive, there was a scream from the window of the warden’s room. The two froze for a second, unsure as to what to do next.

Chapter 13:  Nick of Time

As I watched in horror, I realized that the warden had returned from the city. The warden had run back inside his room and I suspected that he was running out of his room at that very moment. Within a minute he would be standing outside the toilet complex. I looked back at the toilet complex and saw that both of them had climbed down using the main door of the complex as a ledge. This side was facing the hostel and there was very little time to act. Both of them unexpectedly ran inside the toilet complex, and just then, the warden was in my view.

I too quickly tried to hide, cringed to the left side of my window. Satisfied that I was out of the warden’s sight, I looked again.

The warden was outside the complex and was screaming, “Joyjit! Kivi! I know you are inside this toilet. Come outside.”

They didn’t come out. The warden went inside. I knew the game was over.

I was surprised when the warden came out alone and went to the back of the toilet complex, checking if anyone was behind it. Apparently, he had not found them inside. I then saw him turn back and run to the back of our hostel. In the next instant, I saw the two running out from the complex.

“What was that?” we all asked the moment they entered the room.

“We were hiding inside the toilet.” Said Joyjit.

“But we saw the warden enter the complex. Didn’t he check all the toilets?”

“Course, he did!”

“How did you hide then?”

“Do you remember a scene in a movie called ‘Nick of Time’ where the hero hides from the villain? He opens all the doors and stands behind one of them. We too did the same thing.”

‘Nick of Time’ was a movie which was shown in the previous year in our school in a projector. I was surprised and impressed at the manner in which the two friends put to use an idea from a movie.

“Wow! That was quick thinking!” I said.

“All thanks to Joyjit! We live to fight another day!” hailed Samad.

But the festive atmosphere was spoilt by a knock on the door. It was Jim, our school prefect.

“The principal wants to see you Kivi. Right now!”

The nightmare was not over yet.

Chapter 14:  Déjà vu

Abraxas

The sun was setting across the horizon. The evening sun was hot and yellow and the sky was filled with such brown ambience that the forests looked golden and deserted. It was summer now, and the afternoon had been so hot. The evening weather was better, warm and humid.

In a room, Anil Abraham was sitting down by the window and was reading a question paper. There was a snoring sound behind him. Mr Abraham had slept off while sitting on a chair with a newspaper on his table.

Anil was looking at the question paper. He folded the question paper neatly and opened up his drawer and kept it inside. As he closed the drawer, it made a small squeaky sound and the noise woke up his father.

Mr Abraham removed the copy of The Hindu that had become crumbled below him and looked for the source of the sound that had waked him up. He saw that it was Anil and said, “So how did you do today?”

“I did pretty well. The questions were easy to solve, but unlike previous years, the Mathematics paper had a science and a commerce part. I attempted the commerce part and did fairly well in it.”

“You must have missed this during the exams.” said Mr Abraham, raising the crumpled paper and showing to his son.

“‘Income Tax authorities almost completed issuing notices to all the bookies involved in the match-fixing scandal including the south Delhi-based jeweller, Mukesh Gupta.’ They are catching a lot of cricket players in this match fixing scandal. Now this is what I can call a good catch!” And the father and son laughed together for the first time since Anil’s exams had started.

From the corner of his eyes, he could see a green shirt moving outside in the garden. He could swear he saw Kivi in the trees but when he had turned his eyes towards the direction of the movement, he could see nothing unusual. He was disturbed by another sound that came from the kitchen.

“That smart line is not going to help our son in his exams! I told you I want you to stop giving him silly ideas till the end of the exams,” said Mrs Abraham, who had come out with a tray of tea and biscuit.

Mrs Abraham kept the tray on the table next to Mr Abraham and the two acted like real gentlemen and took the tea and biscuit quietly. As Anil ate a biscuit and looked outside, he saw Samad and Ifty walking outside towards the dormitory.

Mrs Abraham went near Anil and looked at what he was reading. She then looked outside the window and frowned again.

“My garden is all spoilt this season! All the chilies have died out mysteriously! Look at that. Today morning, there were about twenty chilies. Right now, I can see that there are only about five left.”

“It must be the bees. The boys have been wrecking all the bee hives this year. No wonder, the chilies have stopped growing. In this part of the region, flowers depend more on bees than butterflies for pollination.”

“As far as I know, bees pollinate flowers and then fruits come. I have seen the chilies grow out but have seen few grow to their full size.”

Mr Abraham became quiet again and looked around for a change of topic. He looked up the dormitory and saw some boys at the top of the water tank on top of the building.

“I wonder what they are up to this time!” he said. “I better call the warden.” And he picked up the phone.

Down the Memory Lane

The sun was setting across the horizon. The evening sun was hot and yellow and the sky was filled with such brown ambience that the forests looked golden and deserted. It was summer now, and the afternoon had been so hot. The evening weather was better, warm and humid.

The two boys were returning from the school canteen. Due to the board exams, many boys and girls were nowadays too reluctant to even go for the afternoon snacks that consisted of a burger and a Pepsi.

As they passed along the school garden for the gate towards the dormitories, the two boys looked at the school garden and then at the flowers. The plants would always be there, but the flowers would bud and blossom, and then they would go. The flowers looked lovelier than before, perhaps because they were leaving school in a few days forever. Deep down inside, they knew that they would remember all the happy memories associated with this place for the rest of their lives.

“It is a nice place, isn’t it?” said Samad, sadly.

“Yeah.” said Ifty. “You know, I will always miss this place. Let’s come back here whenever we get the chance.”

“We should. It was fun growing up here. Not the best place to grow up, but it was fun.” said Samad, and they both laughed.

While walking through the school garden en route to the dormitory, they turned their heads towards the east. They saw the school doctor who was coming out of the hospital. He was on his way back to the city.

“Remember the time,” said Ifty, “when you went to that doctor to get treatment for bee bites?”

“Ha-ha! Don’t forget, I wasn’t alone. I never walked alone,” said Samad.

The two friends came across the gate towards the second gate that led them to the dormitory.

“Remember the time we went to the dhaba?”

“We didn’t go to the dhaba,” said Ifty. “We ran to the dhaba!”

And the two laughed again.

They came to the gate that led to the dormitory. They were walking along the path that led them to the dorm building when all of a sudden they saw Kivi rushing out of the Abrahams’ garden. The two stopped at their tracks and looked at each other and laughed again.

“For sure, that guy is up to no good. I bet he is stealing those chilies again!”

“Remember the time when he stole into the warden’s room and turned on all the lights?” said Samad.

“Remember the day he sprayed Baygon spray all over your body to get rid of the bees?” And they both laughed again.

“Speaking of bees, I have a new kullu joke!

Once an elephant was eating leaves from a tree. But it met a bee hive on one of its branch.  A group of bees chased the elephant, the elephant ran into a forest, on the way it met its Ant friend,

Ant: ‘Hey, why are you running?’

Elephant: ‘Bees are chasing me.’

Ant (Generously): ‘You come and hide behind me.’ ”

Kullu!” screamed Ifty and the two laughed at the joke just like old times.

As they approached the dormitory they looked up and saw some boys at the top of the tank.

“Remember the day Deepak tried to jump down from up there?”

All along the Water Tank

The sun was setting across the horizon. The evening sun was hot and yellow and the sky was filled with such brown ambience that the forests looked golden and deserted. It was summer now, and the afternoon had been so hot. The evening weather was better, warm and humid.

The three friends were trying to pluck a raw papaya from a tall tree in the jungle. They were standing on a rocky platform, but it was a bit too far away. Kivi and Romendro held Joyjit by his left hand while Joyjit used his right hand to hold a hockey stick to hook a papaya towards them.

Joyjit looked down. There was rock and thorns everywhere. One small mistake and he would be all dust and bones.

He turned his attention towards the task in hand and locked the papaya branch onto his hockey stick’s grasp. He twisted it and gently pulled the branch backwards. Kivi used his other free hand to catch hold of the biggest papaya hanging on top of the tree trunk and plucked it. Joyjit released the plant and almost fell forward into the thicket of thorns.

“We got salt. All we now need is chilies. Kivi, you go get it. We will meet at the top of the water tank.”

Kivi climbed down the rocks and ran towards the Abrahams’ garden. He saw the chilies and smiled. He had been routinely scavenging them. He felt sorry for Mrs Abraham and reasoned to himself that this was probably the last time they were plucking chilies in school, for they would be gone by this time next month. And in the future, if any students were to steal chilies from her garden, it was not going to be his fault.

As he plucked the chilies, he thought he saw somebody inside the Abrahams’ house. With a huge rush of adrenaline, he ran for the nearest tree and looked from behind. It was only Anil.

Feeling like a fool, he pulled himself up and went to the top of the dorm building. On the way, he saw Ifty and Samad on his way and tried to hide the chilies which were already in his pocket by putting his hand in it to hide the bulge.

As he climbed to the top of the water tank, he saw us gathered around the papaya. He took out his chilies which were sliced into small pieces using an old knife. It was mixed properly with the already-sliced papaya and salt and we all started eating the papaya slices at once. It was delicious.

After a while, the food was gone and we sat down and discussed the Maths exam.

“You know,” I said “on my way up here, I saw those two idiots in the dorm. They are still crying their asses off and are sulking with their heads pushed into the pillows.”

“Who?” Kivi asked.

“Probin and Jammy! They are crying over some problems they solved incorrectly.”

“What the hell? Who didn’t solve a problem incorrectly today?”

And we all laughed.

“Who cares about the mistakes of our past? Nothing can change what they have done. They should accept that.”

As we chatted, we looked at the setting sun from the top of the dormitory and looked down below. I saw Ifty and Samad coming back from the canteen and immediately started remembering the bee hive massacre that had happened a month ago. I turned towards the almond tree next, and checked to see if the bee hive was still there.

“No bee hives! We scared them all away!”

“Yeah,” said Kivi, “but at a price!”

“What did Mr Madhavan say the other day?”

“He scolded me like anything, man! He asked me to apologize to the man who was bitten by a swarm of bees. He also spoke of my studies, my wicked life and my not so bright future!”

Again we laughed.

“But that is nothing, compared to what Joyjit got that evening from Mrs Madhavan.”

“What did she say to you, Joyjit?” we asked. We had heard the answer to this a lot of times and as if that wasn’t enough, we had asked again that day.

“Well, she said she heard from the warden that I was making a bomb on top of the toilet complex!”

We all laughed hard.

“She must have imagined that I was making a stink bomb!”

Chand who had been laughing at Joyjit now reminded us of the weather. “I feel so hot man! I think I need a swim.”

Kivi repeated Chand’s words in sotto voce again, “I feel so hot man! I think I need a tub to swim. Saala, are you trying to show off that you can swim?”

The crowd started cracking jokes on Chand.

“Hey, Da’Chand! You know how to swim?” said Romendro.

“Maybe he cannot swim, but he can float!” said Joyjit.

“You idiots! I will show you I can swim!” Chand said angrily.

“Show us, oh noble and great floating thing in the sky!”

Chand then gleamed his eyes wickedly at the Mohicans and spoke slowly, “Can you losers bet on this?”

“We all here will each give you a chicken bowl to you this Sunday evening,” Joyjit said, “if you can show us, right here and now, that you can swim across the two holes in that water tank.”

Without any hesitation, Chand took off his T-shirt and jumped into the water tank. The two holes were about twenty feet apart. We ran off towards the other hole and while we waited for Chand to emerge, I asked Joyjit, “Don’t you think we bet a little too much?”

He looked at me, first with a puzzled look, and then smiled, “What, and miss all this fun? I call this a reasonable bet. Whether we win or lose, we see Chand making a fool out of himself!”

The dark waters became turbulent. As a dark hairy shape rose from the murky waters beneath, I remember feeling a strong sense of déjà vu all over again. Something bad was going to happen.

Suddenly, somebody screamed from behind. It was the warden. His eyes moved suspiciously as he approached us climbing the solitary ladder that connected the terrace with the dormitory. He was tired with all the climbing, but his face changed to wicked pleasure as he saw Chand emerging from the tank.

We froze as the warden approached us. As we stood there not knowing what to do next, I remember Joyjit whispering to Kivi from the back.

“Kivi! I have a plan!”

In memory of Samad.

The Thief in the Night 2 : The Keymaker

Posted in College, Thief by madanlmg on 31 January, 2010

Chapter 1: A Band Apart

I love my college hostel life. It gave me so much to learn from. It helped me find new friends but even better, newer enemies. I would always get up in the morning, all lazy and fumble along to college. But once I left college for hostel, life seemed to open up new horizons, new plans and schemes. Fresh ideas on the fresh mind always seemed to dawn upon us so as to spend time in the most fruitful manner rather than utterly useless things such as PAP’s afternoon Maths classes on Fourier series and transformations.

That day was no different. We were waiting for Bishal to complete showing off his ‘brilliant’ PASCAL programs to our computer teacher, Mrs Shantibhaskar, and were planning to head back to hostel. Naresh busied himself during the wait by running off to meet some of the college day scholars. After Bishal came out of the lab, we were again waiting for Naresh to come back and had to listen unwillingly to Bishal’s story about us how shocked our teacher was to see his prime number program.

“You know, Madan,” said Bishal, “whether a number is a prime number can be checked by dividing it with a lot of numbers. But do you know till what numbers should you do the check? For instance, if I say 100, what numbers would you divide 100 with till you find that the number is prime?”

“That’s easy, boy.” said Satya. “Divide 100 by the number range from 2 to n-1, in this case, all numbers from 2 to 99.”

“I don’t think so,” I said “for it is sufficient if we divide the number from 2 to n/2, in this case the range from 2 to 50.”

With an aura of superiority, Bishal laughed and said, “No. Both of you are wrong. It is the number range from 2 to the square root of n, in this case 2 to 10. See, if we divide 100 by a number greater than 10, we get the quotient less than 10, which counts as a double effort. Such a program is less efficient. The efficiency of the program can be increased again if we skip the even numbers after 2 …”

Blah Blah Blah …

The idiot was spot on, as usual. Fed up with this kind of discussions, I looked around as we left the back door of the Electronics and Communication Department and turned my head towards the Electrical Department. Something caught my eyes. It was a jackfruit.

“Hey, Satya! Have you seen that fruit before?” I asked.

“Which fruit? Oh, that? Yeah I saw. I was not sure at first. But that is a jackfruit tree and the fruit on it are one hell of a size!”

We all stopped at our tracks and looked closely. There were two more fruit from the same branch. It reminded me of my school days when once I ate some of the jackfruit seeds too fast that the sticky matter got stuck to my lips. I smiled to myself.

Bishal the know-it-all Hermione Granger of our gang said, “I don’t know whether you know this, guys, but these fruits of the jungles of our college is auctioned yearly. So if any of those people sees us stealing fruits, we are sure to pay a huge fine.”

“I know,” I said (like I already knew!). “I was just wondering if we could do it for the fun of it.”

“I think it is a bad idea.” said Naresh, who had just come back after talking to Premish/Postmish, Wilbert, John, Gopi, Jyotsna, Ramya and Nancy.

“Me too.” said Satya. “We could be in big trouble.”

I shrugged and we all left for hostel. Bishal then joked about Naresh trying to put kadalai on one of the girls (Jo, Nancy or Ramya), which in our college jargon meant chatting with girls in ‘more than a friendly manner’ and was quizzing Naresh over who the lucky girl was. Meanwhile, I was wondering whether anyone had a plan to steal the jackfruit, for if they did, they were in big trouble. I was right, for behind me were three friends watching the fruit with enthusiasm, and working up plans in their minds as to how to get hold of them.

Gavaskar, Santhosh and Babu.

Chapter 2: The Keymaker

Gavaskar was the ideal “macha“. Macha means small in Manipuri, but in Tamil, it means the equivalent of Saala (Hindi) or brother-in-law (English). However, unlike the Hindi Saala which is used in a negative sense as looking down upon the addressed, it was a gesture of closeness in Tamil.

Gavaskar’s room was near the entrance of our hostel. His room was next to the hostel telephone. Usually, he was the telephone operator. In those days, the telephone was the only means of communication for the whole hostel. And since it was on the ground floor, and all the first years stayed on the ground floor, it was natural that a first year would pick up the phone and scream at the top of his lungs. Sometimes two people have the same name and it was better to scream “Vijaybalan, Room no. 18, First year” or “Vijaybalan, Room no. 53, Final year” to avoid confusion, or even better, “Vinod, VS Vinod, First year” or “Vinod, Bhandaru Vinod, First year” to avoid more confusion. Since Gavaskar was always nearby, he could tell your name, room number and department by heart, whether you are from Mahe or Manipur, or first year or final year.

Unlike the original ‘little master’, Gavaskar was a big fan of bikes. He liked the seniors’ bikes a lot. He planned to buy one in second year, for it was a customary practice for freshers not to own bikes. So it was not unusual for us to find our friend sitting atop a senior’s bike with the alibi of studying outside his noisy room and concentrating in books in the parking lot area. Another activity he indulged in was talking shit in groups about other freshers, making fun of other idiots in the gang like Murugan the loudmouth (cousin brother of Wireless, Final Year; trust me, it is a real name, Wireless was Final Year Amarendro’s roommate), Tharang Peco-priest (the man who prays for all his sins once a week), etc.

One day, I was walking along the corridor. While passing Gavaskar’s room, I had a glimpse of him with Babu, Santhosh and Abdul Rashid. They were looking together at a suitcase. I saw them trying out a lot of keys to open it.

Macha,” I asked, “What are you doing?”

Like a tired mechanic, Rashid looked at me and said, “Madan, we have lost the key to this suitcase. Make is VIP. Do you have a VIP suitcase?”

“’Course, I do.”

“Can we have its keys, please?”

“Sure.” I said and I gave them my keys. It too didn’t help.

“You know, once I saw a senior use a screwdriver as a wedge at the joint of the suitcase and used it to open the suitcase…”

Suddenly the suitcase made way and it opened just like that.

“Congrats, man!” I applauded. They all felt like an Einstein each of whom had just discovered E=mc2! In my mind, I called them the keymakers. Maybe they could run a business of opening locks for the hostellers who had lost their keys!

After I left, they went on to more serious things.

“Macha,” said Gavaskar eying the parking lot with malicious intent. “Let’s see what else we can open…”

Chapter 3: Thondai’s Honda

Some days and nights later, the jackfruits became bigger and bigger. Anyone passing by on foot would either look at it or think about buying a jackfruit from the nearby town market of Kalapet. It was therefore, no surprise that Gavaskar and his merry men started the most unusual plan. The plan to steal the jackfruit!

One night, they all gathered in Gavaskar’s room. Santhosh, who was the best player in any damn sports I have ever seen, spoke with casual nonchalantness in half muted Tamil.

“My dear friends, I want to tell you something, I want to tell you about a jackfruit. Actually, so to speak, about the plan to steal the jackfruit in question.”

“So what is the plan?”

“The plan is quiet simple. Go, pluck it and bring it back.”

Babu was not happy with the plan. “Huh? Do you think it is THAT easy? How will we carry it?”

“Don’t worry, Harinath and Praveen have already done it. If they can do it, why can’t we? As for carrying it, Gavaskar has a fat ass. We could use his towel to carry another item, big and round!”

“I don’t want to eat from anything that touches his ass!” laughed Santhosh. “Let us use mine.”

We all laughed, but Babu, who always had this worried look on his face, looked paler than usual. “What if anyone sees us carrying the jackfruit?”

“We’ll do it at night.” said Rashid “No one can see us.”

At that moment, the terror of final year, Surjit Yadav arrived. He drove in his Yamaha after having a good evening at the local wine shop ECR wines. It was 12.30 am in the night, the usual time for him to rag first years. Luckily for us that day, he went straight inside.

“What if that guy sees us on the road?”

No one spoke for a second. Gavaskar then spoke with leonine pride. “I just have the key to that!” and took out a suitcase key! “I found out that this key can open Thondai’s bike.

“Thondai’s bike? What the f…?”

“You got a better idea? Don’t worry, macha” he added quickly. “He usually calls it a day quiet early.” and sat back and ogled in the distance thinking about the jackfruits.

Chapter 4: A Flaw in the Plan

The Coromandel Coast was named after the Cholas, the ancient rulers of South India. Originally known as Cholamandalam, it was anglicized as Coromandel by the French and the British. At night, the sea along the Coromandel Coast can be across the college gate and it looks really beautiful. But that night, it was hardly visible from the college, for it was a dark night. One had to get close to the sea to actually see the bubbles froth around; dance like mad bubbles, and disappear as amazingly as they had appeared. Still, one could hear the tides rumble across, breaking the silence of the night.

The security man at the gate had neither time, nor patience to see the beauty. This was a regular scene he was used to. The only thing that mattered right now was to go to the hostel to get a quick wink of sleep.

Just then, he heard another rumble from the other side of the gate. He turned and saw another security man arrive. It was time to go. Quipping a word or two about the weather and it being an uneventful night, he started his motorcycle and left for the hostel. Once he got there, he burned a mosquito coil, took out a mat from a hiding place in the parking lot area and went to sleep.

Suddenly a motorbike blared in the middle of the night and the security guard woke up. He saw a flash of light near the hostel entrance. It looked like a bike with two people on it. He got up and went past them, close enough to realize that they were students. He also realized that they were holding a large towel that covered something round and huge.

As he turned around and got up to have a closer look, the bike zoomed towards the hostel. Although he did not call them out, he saw them running towards the hostel while dropping the towel into the drain. Carefully he got down and pulled it up and turned the light beam of his electric torchlight onto it. It revealed a large jackfruit.

He then heard an angry scream. He turned back and saw one of the local fruit guards. After Harinath and Praveen’s venture earlier in the week, they had been installed by the fruit owners to put a stop to the stealing.

“Look, those idiots ran off after plucking your jackfruits.”

Another guard who was previously in the shadow came running. “I noted the vandi(vehicle) number. Let’s call our brothers and search for the thieves!”

“Good idea! The rascals need a thorough bashing!”

The security guard ran towards the hostel. Meanwhile, as the fruit guards ran off for more man power, all one could hear was the sea across the Coromandel Coast roaring with laughter and suddenly vanishing back into oblivion as quickly as it had appeared.

Chapter 5: The Tell-Tale Heat

Gavaskar and Babu left the hostel at 11.30pm and came back at 11.42pm. I know this because the clock in my room fell off and lost a battery cell as soon as I had rushed out of my room. I heard the crimemasters come back and eagerly anticipated the taste of jackfruits.

MACHA! WE ARE SCREWED! RUN FOR YOUR LIVES! RUN!!!”

Quickly, we rushed inside our rooms to hear the tale. Gavaskar was out of breath and was looking for a place to hide while Babu updated us.

Macha, romba koodhi aappaa irukka! We arrived at the place as planned and plucked the jackfruits. And what did we find? It was still raw! And then I got up the tree and tried to pluck it but it wouldn’t let go! I even tried hanging down from the fruit itself, but after some tugging, both I and the fruit fell. The gardeners who were sleeping under one tree woke up and saw us and noted down our vehicle registration number. We did not know what to do, so we quickly rolled the fruit into Santhosh’s towel and hurried back to hostel when again a security guy saw us. As we were trying to avoid him, we dropped the fruit in a drain. I think he saw that! And that’s not all. All of them are at this very moment on the way to the hostel!”

A lot of terrorizing information to digest in thirty seconds! Not only were we going to lose the raw and unripe jackfruit, but were we going to think of avoid a tragedy.

“What shall we do?” None of us had any idea. So much for good ideas! Suddenly, “Macha, security guard is here!”

We all looked back and saw the security guard coming towards us. However, he went instead for the vehicles and started touching the silencer pipes one by one. No sooner had he touched Thondai’s bike than he took out a pen and noted down the Pondicherry registration number on a piece of paper. He then turned to ask us whose bike it was. Somebody said, “Arun Sir, final year!”

“ARUN, FINAL YEAR! ARUN, FINAL YEAR! ARUN, FINAL YEAR!”

“Arun Sir, Arun Sir, Arun Sir!”

Thondai, THONDAI!” Sombody upstairs on the final year floor yelled.

A loud thumping was heard. The guard had reached his room and was now waking him up!

Thondai (Tamil for throat), also known as Arun, Final Year, belonged to the Electronics and Instrumentation Department. He usually boozed himself to sleep and was visibly annoyed when he heard someone thumping. However, on seeing the security, he came back to senses.

“Who was driving your vandi? Who came back just now with your bike?”

“Huh…. what bike? My bike?”

“Yes, your bike. Who took it? I saw the two fellows from a distance. One was a little stout while the other was thin. No, it can’t be you.”

Just then, the local fruit guards arrived. There were eight of them. As we watched in horror, two of them took out a large coconut sickle and a long knife and brandished it in front of us and boomed in the voice of the devil, “WHERE IS THE THIEF?”

Chapter 6: A Bad Bargain

“NO! WAIT!” One of the fruit guards screamed. “There were two boys. One fat and the other was thin.” A layman’s description of Gavaskar and Babu, to be exact. “Not this boy.”

“Who was the person who was driving this bike tonight?”

After a long pause, a sound came from the back. “It was us, sir.”

We all looked back. Till then we had avoided looking at Gavaskar and Babu in the eyes just to make them less suspicious. Another voice joined in, “Me too, sir.” It was Santhosh.

As they surrendered, we looked at the fruit guards.  The fruit guards were hired by the people who won the bid for the college’s fruits’ auction every year. This year’s winner had bid with a huge sum of Rs 75 thousand. So much money was at stake, and so it was no wonder, day and night, the fruit guards were hired to protect the fruits at all costs.

“You people need to be taught a lesson!” said one fruit guard.

Thondai then spoke, “my friends, I feel that these kids are too young to understand the gravity of the situation, of the crime they have committed. They have no idea what they have done. Please pardon them. They are like your younger brothers.”

“We cannot simply let them go like that.” said fruit guard.”We want justice.”

The security guard then made a bargain. “All right, let them pay a fine. Perhaps the price of a large jackfruit? How much do they cost in the market?”

A fruit guard said, “Thambi, do we look like we came to sell fruits here? We ask for a fine of Rs. 2000!”

“Please sir, they are students, make it less! They didn’t even touch the cashew nuts!”

After a fair amount of pleading, the bargaining completed after a Rs. 500 fine was ordered. With the money, the fruit guards left the hostel, one of them carrying the raw jackfruit.

The security guard then said, “I hope this serves as a lesson. Next time you people think about roaming in the college at night, remember this incident.” He then said, “I will not speak to the warden about this.” And he left.

We now looked at Thondai who had not spoken in a while and his serious face became a smile.

“I think I just found the persons who will write all my assignments this semester! You! And you! See both of you tomorrow!” He went upstairs to his room.

We all discussed the incident near the hostel gate. At the end of the day, we were poorer by five hundred rupees but our stomach was still empty! But then our stomach turned as we heard the sound of another bike coming back to hostel.

Ravikanth, the Computer Science bookworm, screamed, “SURJIT YADAV SIR JUST ARRIVED! Run for the love of mankind and Sai-baba, you first year asses!” And we ran off to our respective rooms.

As I reached my room, I noticed that my alarm clock which had fallen on the floor had stopped and was now showing the time when Gavaskar and Babu had come back. It needed a plastic cover, I thought, and I replaced the battery back into the cell compartment of the clock. As soon as I place it back on my table, Bishal, the know-it-all, entered my room and asked for our senior Girish’ old PASCAL Lab Record and reference books. Bishal was planning to show his PASCAL outputs in colour with graphics. As Satya and I searched for the books, I remember Bishal saying this.

“You know what? They shouldn’t have been so greedy. They could have bought ten ripe jackfruits with that kind of money. Easily!”

I nodded unhappily, for what else could I say? Bishal was right, again, as usual.

The Snakecharmer

Posted in College, Snake by madanlmg on 13 November, 2009

Chapter 1 The Dark Mark

Our hostel is about 1 km from our departments. We all take the roadway which goes by a jungle, tennis and basketball courts and the bloody Mech department. That damned department is bloody for 2 reasons, for the damned workshop where we toiled hard in first year and the damned building we see everyday on the way to college.

Our friend Jungle Boy is smart. He took this secret route to reduce time wastage. He went through the jungle everyday.

The jungle is full of  life; shrubs and thorny plants, and many small animals. A lot of snakes too. One of them happened to be on Jungle Boy’s path that fateful day.

Perhaps it was the sun. Perhaps it was the jungle. Perhaps it was Vidhya that our friend was too occupied to see the snake on his way. We will never know. What we do know is that the snake bit him on his right ankle.

The most dangerous snake in the world is the Black Mamba. This snake has a white body with a black mouth hence the name. And it has the ability to kill 20 elephants or 200 men with the neurotoxic venom that it injects in a single bite. But our snake for some reason only manages to punch 2 holes apparently with minimum damage.

Chapter 2 The Bloody Scar

That day I saw him coming towards my room.

“Vidhyaaaaaa!!!” I screamed at the top of my lungs. That was the name of Jungle Boy’s love bird who flew away too soon.

He looked visibly uncomfortable.

“Madan, tere paas dettol haikya?” Do you have dettol, he asked.

Nahin. kyoon?” No, why? I asked.

Mujhe ek insect bite huwa hai.” I got an insect bite.

“Maybe Deepak has,” I said.

That evening in the mess hall. Murugun the loudmouth of the batch was blabbering in full speed Tamil about Jungle Boy. He said, “Jungle Boy chathittirukku! Jungle Boy chathittirukku! ” Jungle Boy is dying! Jungle Boy is dying!

“What?”

Murugun munched an idli and said, “Macha, you know what happened to him, da? He’s dying, da!”

I was shocked, “What in the blue hell happened to him?”

“A snake bit him in the leg!”

“Two holes in the ankle! Means two bites!”

Paambu must have been so big!”

“Poor Jungle Boy!”

Some time later, Senthil and Jandu came inside the hall.

“Jungle Boyis fine for now. Today is the third day since the bite. Doctor told to stay in hospital. They said that they cannot confirm which snake bit him, so they shouldn’t use an antivenom immediately, but only if his situation turns critical.”

We all prayed our friend would recover and come back fast. Fortunately, he did, and three days, he came back much to the delight of the trendsetters (or c*cksuckers as Shaggy would affectionately call them).

Chapter 3 The Ouroboros’ Plight

I walked into AP’s room one day. The kullu Tamil gang was rolling on the floor laughing, specially Murugun and Rashid, who were renenacting the snake bite. They were joking.

“Macha, how did Jungle Boy not die?”

“Maybe he steeped on the snake’s ass, thus acting as a suction, and thereby stopped the poison from reaching his leg!”

“Maybe the Paambu was female! Couldn’t inject poison into a broken hearted fellow!”

“Maybe the snake died after she bit Jungle Boy!”

Everyone was laughing. Suddenly Jungle Boy entered the room and looked at everyone. Everyone shut up.

I broke the ice. I sang an old hindi movie song from a snake movie called Nagina and did a parody of the heroine super-snake Sri Devi’s snake bite on Amrish Puri, the Snake Charmer. Jungle Boy said, “Ay-yay-yo!” and left the room.

The next week, Swastik, our favourite hostel magazine was released. One article said:

Jungle Boy’s Victims:

1. Jaggu, using his extremely loud early morning bhajans in pc next to his room.

2. Scorpions found dead on the roadside at night. Yes, Satyamurthy, the CSE teacher didn’t kill them, Jungle boy did!

3. Snakes.

4.Madan, AP, Shaggy and Swaroop for writing these jokes.

5. Space available!

We will all laugh at gilded butterflies. We laugh at funny stories and funny jokes. But maybe the snake who bit Rajagopal is still there. Maybe she is still looking in the jungle for yet another victim, looking at the sun and in the pines everyday, waiting for an old love whom she kissed but who had never returned that love. What goes around sometimes never does come around.