The Day I realised I grew up

Our quarterly visit to the salon due, Dad and I entered the salon located in a rural area, its old rusty marble floor strewn with clumps of hair as if a magician had, with his magic wand, brought the black motifs in the stone in their myriad shapes to life.

From the point of entry, on the left there were 3 barber chairs. Save for the middle one—whose metallic sheen peeked out from the holes in the half-torn plastic covering as if a reptilian were in the midst of exuviating its skin—their metallic trunks had lost the luster. Each occupant was being served by a slim young-adult man’s swift handiwork. Behind these and on my right, was a long wooden box kept parallel to the wall that doubled up as a sofa.

On the box, sat a bespectacled, balding man with his legs crossed, peering into the day’s Hindi newspaper as a slipper dangled from the toes of his foot. His face bore a scruffy look—white pointed hair growths jutted out almost surreptitiously, the shirt’s collar was lopsided.

Dad ambled to the box. Shoved a virgin, neat bunch of newspapers away to a side. Took a seat.

The little salon became abode to the clickety-clack of scissors, the sweet & intimate crisp of newspaper pages being turned, and the occasional nasty snuffling of the man who still maintained an unflinching scan on the papers oblivious to his nasal clamor that had pierced an otherwise tranquil place.

The 11 years old me sat idly next to dad while he went about rebuking me for a gaffe the nature of which, has since escaped my memory.

Suddenly my eyes darted to this particular customer whose head jiggled under his nai’s hands. The fingers glided in and out of the smooth bunch of black hair like snakes slithering in a grassland. I sat there, grinning like I always did when witnessing this. The best part was when the ‘snake’ recoiled from the head and ‘struck’. Flittering around the man, his hands quaked and ruffled the hair his as if readying the skin for the roll of repressed whacks that were to follow.

Pat! Pat! Pat!

The nai then seized the squishy padding of the headrest, his fingers sinking in it and jerked it up as the nuts and bolts clattered and squealed following which, the man reflexively lay his noddle on it. He then proceeded to slap a towel on his cheeks and began kneading some vitality in them. His deadpan look betrayed the amount of effort it must’ve taken. Sitting there, awaiting my turn, I felt I was receiving a sort of second hand relief from the thumps that rang in the salon. It felt oddly soothing almost cleaving me from my purpose of being there…

Ah! Should I ask dad to get me one? Seems sssooo enjoyable

“Are you even bothered to listen to what I am saying?!”, Dad admonished me, jolting me out of my stupor.

“Um…huh-huh”, I muttered. Realizing it wasn’t convincing I let out a sheepish smile.

Upon hearing a clunk, I returned my gaze to the man who rose up from the chair with a sigh, pleasingly surveyed his now glossy face in the mirror, reached over to his back pocket and clipped out some currency notes with his two fingers, handing them over to the barber before he left.

Nai then nodded at me.

Oi! Seems like they’ve begun giving us kids some prefer—Ah no! the sniffling uncle is smoking a pack outside.

So, standing up from the box, I squirmed my little butt in anticipation of having it squashed on the dreaded wooden plank I had known but eschewed its touch.

Eek!! That darn heavy pain would leave my booty as taut as a leather ball.

I trudged to the chair…

“Sit, li’l one”, said the nai.

Okayyy…but wait! He’s just standing there. Doesn’t he have to fetch the plank?!

And so I sat. Resting my li’l boy bottom on the padding. I felt the air swoosh out from under me to the sides. Ah! That sensation. Golden! I noticed I was just tall enough to see the whole of my visage in the mirror. Whoa! That’s when I realized, Kid had finally grown up.

Yay! I have grown. Kiss my ass, Mr. Plank…actually, don’t. 

Baauji, How should cut his hair?”, Nai asked in the direction of my Dad.

“Just give him the simple haircut”.

What, you guys?! Ask meee! I have grown up! I’ll have a simple cut, thank you ver—

And then the clickety-clack of scissors resumed.

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UnGodly Blog Post

Disclaimer: Please acknowledge the author’s sincere efforts to Capitalize the ‘G’. He expresses regrets for any error to this regard that may have inadvertently crept in. Satire, if any, is purely accidental or could have rode pillion on the vehicle driven by the errors.
I wish to point out the kind of God which I shall be weighing. The apparent conceit of the last sentence may scandalize many religious folks.
To weigh GOD?! Blasphemy!
No. No. No. All that I am weighing is the idea of God as to weigh God itself would require me to believe in one.
People have different concepts of god including one which claims No God is a misconception. But the one which makes me cringe is captured in the vagueness of —‘invisible force’.
The chants that propose this are always greeted with cheers of approval in a pack of the devout, age no bar. Their logic? Well, there must be something controlling the world. Excuse me? Controlling? How could one deduce the all pervasive havoc to be ‘controlled’?
They may not know who god is; they may even concede that we may never know so for sure; yet they will happily concoct stories, images and ‘sacred’ customs to defend till death this God.
I shall completely overlook the adamant invisible force belief for it is just that— a belief. It has no evidence to back it up and no deduction ahead; an immobility that mobilizes the tongue of the thought-wise immobile.
The God I wish to talk about is the fatherly-figure, sitting up somewhere, keeping an eye out for us. This gives us 3 corollaries only one of which could be true:
1 God is a masochist with strong fetish for self mutilation so much so that He is inspired to yank out an eye and keep it beside for our venerating purposes. I see a potential religion in this.
2 What about the activity of the other eye! Either God is one eyed alien or…
3 Mysteriously, it suggests God has an independent eye movement. What now? A chameleon? A chamalien?
Surely God could never be a chameleon, right?

By the end, hopefully you’ll understand it isn’t a bizarre idea at all.
This God —as professed by many— has the capacity to intervene in earthly matters and it/she/he does so for our betterment. It is powerful, omnipresent, sentient and above all cares for us, humans —those who’ve made plastic a firearm and Kalashnikov an ornament, such lovely people we are.
From what I have heard, it keeps a log of all the good and bad deeds of each individual and treats them accordingly. I believe, to any person it is fairly visible that violence, hunger, death, rapes, murder, terrorism and Kamal R Khan are rather ubiquitous. Any curious person should wonder where that God is; why he is silent; what he is actually doing up there. Is the other eye directed to eve tease the angels? Is God a mere witness to this chaos? Does God enjoy the pedophiles artfully serving the mankind?
Okay. Time to get it out in the open. Pedophile and pediatrician are two DIFFERENT professionals. You get that God? Keep the children away from the former and bring the diseased ones to the latter.

Those who believe in God find refuge in clichéd statements that operate along the lines of —‘God works in mysterious ways’. To me, why the existence of God itself is not termed a mystery is a mystery in itself. Plus, these responses form a loop with the notion that God always acts for our betterment. Then, is our betterment a mystery? If so, for whom? God or us or both? Could it be us, unaware of what we really need due to the rampant materialism of the 21st century? If so, then wouldn’t praying be a bad idea as it is for an six year old to assist his Dad in purchasing Jeevan beema?
Could it be God? If yes then who assigned this puzzled almighty the God’s chair?
Could it both? If yes then, God help us!!
Nonetheless, believers cling onto these notions, gnawing on the discussion until it is left as dead as a dodo and not worth pursuing even to the rationalist. But I shall hold my horses as an attentive lad may point out my inferred sluggish God mayn’t be an obvious fail since a perfect world would be boring and dull if not Utopian. I myself wouldn’t favor such a perfect world but neither does it make a puppeteer-like God worth worshiping. There you have it.  God, if there is one, can be best summed up as a puppeteer trying to amuse itself. I certainly am not laughing. Neither is Jihadi John. Was?. Or you could think of it as a parent who’s dumped his newborn bare and naked into this obscene world. What would this child think of his creator if he’s lucky enough to mature?
Would he weave imaginary bio data for his parents, extolling them? Pray to them? Of course not. He wouldn’t care two hoots for them. This is a far cry from the widely regurgitated belief that urges us to thank God for giving us a ‘perfect’ life, a joyous life, a blessed life. I say creation alone ain’t sacred and creation without care is sacrilegious.
When talking of God one cannot miss His effective ‘Bhagwan Vyaqti Vikas Yojana‘ that involves Praying. Lots of it. In times of distress people have advised me to deposit chants and praises and hymns in my prayer account. But why?
If you pray without working you’re a lazy schmuck. If you pray after working or —as you must’ve gauged from my tone by now— in spite of working then you’re implying God has commitment deficits or in short —God is the lazy schmuck.
I used to be asked to take part in Parivar Sung Puja during festivals to thank the almighty. For some strange reason that eludes me, such long sessions of supplication served as a throwback to my childhood years: a younger me overcome with maddening ecstasy on listening to the Pokemon theme song.
“Pokemon, (gotta catch them all) it’s you and me
I know it’s my destiny
Pokemon, oh, you’re my…” forget it.
I have since then dropped the Pokemon & the belief.
Pika! Pika!

 

The Scared Sacral Preacher

Mr Plunab  was a revered figure in a town of the religious; no sooner did he utter a few words than the boys inscribed them on a stone. The parks were full of rocks, stones, marbles and even Cosco balls with wise words enshrined on them. Of course, the inscriptions were hardly comprehensible especially the marble ones which lead one observant tourist to believe they were the Chinese’s cemetery. It was a daily custom for Mr Plunab to lecture the curious townfolk on ethics, morals and obviously, the deities. Charming man, he was, as attested by the elder ladies who accompanied him on his evening walks during which he recounted lessons of how the spirit made humans lay above the rest.
The fact that these walks culminated in orgies is irrelevant though a spirited Mr Plunab certainly ended up laying above the rest. He demystified such wild acts as part of his ‘experiment’ on the validity of Sexual Selection, a part of the theory of evolution.
This revelation made the townfolk wag their tongues in anticipation of something to tear through the nasty and gooey belief that Humans were transformed arboreal monkeys who shrieked a few mya.
Apart from the grasp on everything holy, His Holiness Mr Plunab had a vile temper due to which the children were instructed not to ask the meaning of his name. Yet, if any inquisitive rascal did, the Preacher would proceed to tell in a hypnotic way how the name is — pronounced.
“My child, white as the moon, as cool as Ab-raham from Dhoom it’s Plooon-ab.”
Naturally, the kids thought, “what a funny man!”, clearly having failed to spot a pedophiliac tone.

Mr Plunab wasn’t always the Godman. It all started when one day his father, a broke alcohol collecting enthusiast came home, gleaming. As if responding to Plunab’s puzzled look he said:
“There’s change of the silly bison”.

Assuming his father was taunting Plunab’s obese bullish mother one last time —someone he himself wasn’t fond of since he was weaned— Plunab thought he was going to get a new mother. Yippie!
But it took him some time to realise his father wasn’t slurring. Years of slurried speech had taught Plunab to decode it into coherent lines  that were to be relayed to his mother but since that day he had to unlearn that art something which gave less exciting results.

“There’s a change of the syllabi, son.”
“Father?”
“You shall become one.”
“What do you mean?”
“We’ve, in the light of monetary assistance, shifted our allegiance to a different almighty. Better almighty.”
As he said this he glanced at the ancient ceiling  which could’ve fallen right at that instant to reveal the sky dwelling almighty. Which one? He wasn’t sure.
Continuing, his father hauled a set of sacred books and pointing to a famous deity’s picture said, “From now on, this is the one you shall address in your prayers and intonations and hymns.
And yes, you ARE getting a new mother.”
“Yay”, Plunab’s joy knew no bounds.

Instances such as these made Plunab wonder how infidel and intelligent his father was and why he had to squander such valuable traits by guzzling down Johnny Walker.
Subsequently, Plunab wished to emulate his Father in the two former aspects and he did.
But just like his father, he had something that defined his actions —fear.
Yup, he was the scared, sacral preacher.

His whole life was a struggle to ensure a seat in heaven right next to his God. Indeed, the fact that he couldn’t pick out a single God to idolize was a troubling matter.
Out of innumerable Gods, he had to choose one; at best, he could choose one consortium of Gods but in either case the odds were brutally stacked against him. He feared if he didn’t advocate a certain deity his scholarly followers would question his wisdom; he feared betting on the wrong horse;he feared—he feared a freaking armrest would slay the spiritual connection between him and God if he were lucky enough to gain that coveted spot; he feared he’d be judged on his faith in Santa Claus or lack thereof.
Was Claus —the compulsive gift wrapper— an ally of the Almighty? Or was he a self-sponsored start-up whose lax ideologies God didn’t approve of?

On countless times, Plunab had pondered over what the status of dialogue between Santa and God would have been.
“I’m sick of you, Claus!” said God, indignantly.
“Why, O lord?”
“Cause you keep bestowing these children with gifts and here I am, keeping a tab on their deeds and blessing accordingly”
“But my Lord, my—”
“Shut up! Last week, I saw you wriggling through a window of a maximum security Juvenile Home!
What do you have to say about that?”
“But Sire, if I had gone through the chimney I’d have encountered the staff and—”
“Quiet!!” Thundered God, fuming. “There are delinquents, drug addicts, thieves.”
“My lord, they deserve a chance, don’t they? Like the drowsy one wanted a puppy plan.”
“What for?”
“To manage his companion…er…a dog—”
“Go through that a again, Claus” cautioned God.
“Puppy plan?” inquired Claus, his voice quivering.
“Is it cold for you, Claus?” asked God, despondently.
“No Sir, I am…um…from the North Pole, Sire.”
“Then, are you scared?”
“No—No… No, my lord”
“Well, you better be ’cause he had asked for a Poppy Plant!!!” yelled God, his voice reaching a crescendo.
“Scram, Claus. Scram!” admonished God, “Before I confiscate all your reindeer.”

Usually, Plunab dropped the thought at this stage of this divine conversation, scared of its hellish ramifications. The more he thought of these matters the more puzzled he became. Even the alternative, atheism wasn’t a worthy stand as if it were true, who would praise his prudence? The universe? The ‘kainat’, as SRK had once declared?
“What a wasteful stand”, he thought, “Might as well believe in the devil”.

So which God did he settle for?
Since choosing the ‘real’ God was tantamount to needle in haystack kind of a situation Plunab, very tactfully, chose His creation as the item of worship as whoever was the Almighty He’d surely acknowledge His creations being adulated. Thus, began his thoughtful voyage to testify any living thing as an incarnation of the God. It couldn’t be anything, of course. It had to be something majestic, something extraordinary like —the Hyena.

So, he told people of how the thunder of a storm was actually the Hyena laughing; how the Hyena was teaching people —through him of course— the art of resourcefulness via Its foraging methods —scavenging and hunting.
And finally, he enlightened people about a blessing that had come their way —a chance to meet their God who had manifested into this canid-like being whose serene abode boasted of his supreme aroma.
Naturally, he asked the masses to throng the park to witness His majesty —zoological park.

“It’s Him. It’s Him. The Hyena.”, roared the people.

The deity had a tuft of hair along His back, demarcated in the front by two pointy ears, that receded towards the rear end as His back arched to acquaint with the hind legs.
His protruding snout, lined by glistening beads of saliva, was dog-like and blackened toward the tip because —as someone rightfully remarked— He was from Africa.

As everyone was gaping at the God’s graceful features one man thought of decorating Him as a means of gaining one-upmanship.
He reached down for his wallet intermittently without so much as batting an eye or taking a leave from the sense of awe that had consumed all but instead of the wallet, his hand clutched his dangling dhoti.
Before he could frisk himself any further, people took note of this gaffe; their gaze turned toward him with impeccable concurrence, their minds lighting up at this man’s audacity— “Oh, he’z gon’ buy garland, is he? Rogue!”.

So, everyone feverishly rushed for the shops to fetch for the garlands.
One man, the fastest, on his return swooped up the Hyena’s face expecting some ‘kripa’ for his lively partisanship and getting it. His reward?
It was living the rest of his life as an amputee.

In a matter of nanoseconds, with supernatural swiftness the Hyena caught hold of the radius bone and with it half the arm that carried it was sucked in. The only sounds were those of the crunch and the saliva that gurgled around the meat.
The amputee fell on the earth with a thud, painting it in red.

The public, now absolutely silent, stood in disbelief, giving Plunab befuddled looks that sought explanations. Everyone could recall the custom of honouring Gods with the thumb or even any other less hallowed digit but this God right here had taken ’em all as if they were a token of no-pretence.
A dactylophilous God, Hyena was.
Garlands as well as the beliefs were soiled seemingly forever and just as—just as a feeling of dejection began diffusing, the earth itself was vocalized…

“Dhanya ho Hyena! Kripa mil gayi”,
proclaimed the amputee.

The Fault In Our Tar

As I write this I am howling in agony at the loss of what was once the cyclist’s beloved ‘Baap ki Jaagir’ —the footpath where rang the melodious ‘tring-tring’ of our hero bicycles. When the roads were turned into ravines carrying sewage, when the PWD invaded we took to the footpaths, pedalling to our destination; never forgetting to grin villainously at the envious motor bikers and car wale alike.

Our days of domination; our days of joyously poking at those on foot with our front wheel before giving the deadly stare are long gone. The footpaths, alas, lay in ruins, smothered by CEAT tyres of them wretched motorbikes day in and day out.

Over the years, the regard for cyclists has reached bottom low. For those daring to take this risky activity I suggest you read on to see the order of status of traffic elements; see where we belong, after of course consulting your parents.

At the top of the chart are the truckers and tractors: the dons of the traffic; the misanthropic drunkards. Buses, you think? Well, they’re driven  by truckers only, with a bit less booze rumbling from within their system. Trucks come in all shapes and sizes usually modified by the load they carry —most likely construction paraphernalia giving it a slightly plump shape.  Such gargantuan sizes instill in them  truckers a mindset of ‘my way or the highway’ albeit with a twist —my way IS the highway. These truck guys aren’t even fully aware of the concept of cyclists! The only kind they do respect is a distant cycle with a traffic cop on it but this mistake is compensated for by approaching him and killing him. Anyhow, we can’t blame them, mounted at that height. For a cyclist to overtake those noisy tractors is like flirting with the popular girl: you shall always be friend zoned. To be on the left or to not be? To be on the right or not to be? You can’t blame such a frustrated cyclist for contemplating suicide specially since so many would be willing to abet him. A wise man once said —”On Indian roads there are no accidents only abetted suicides”. That wise man has since taken up blogging.

Ahem. Ahem.

Next are the autos swarming the Metro stations in a blend of yellow and black interspersed with hairy men rearing their heads now & then in a way inspired from the Whac-A-Mole game. Can I get a hammer please? Autowallahs’ drivings style just like Rakhi Sawant’s remarks is slipshod which is mysterious since it is Kareena Kapoor who adorns the interiors of an auto. But then again, this contrast translates into the way they use their indicators, if they are generous enough to do so. Left usually means left but most likely it means autowallah is leaning toward that option. Deduce at your own risk. The meaning to the eccentric usage of indicator lies in the way my 3 year old cousin recites the word —indigator. You see, everything has an order. Delving into the etymology of the word, indigator one finds it actually describes the autowallah’s persona — indie + alligator. Now we know! These guys really are independent unrestricted predatory thick-skinned reptiles. May the blessings be with ya, my cousin.

The motorbikes! Oh, how much I hate ’em for having trampled on our evasion methods. It’s hardly fair that the vehicle gets to go fast without compromising on sneaking abilities. I say ban the motorists from taking to the footpaths. We shall redeem the tiled plane that was once so dearly ours. But we need legal backing. Legal backing. I call for the BFSPA (Bicycled Forces Special Powers Act) which should be put in place in Heavy Reproductive Performing zones like ——Delhi. This act —as a deterrent— should allow public shaming of the offenders. Note: lynching is not covered. So Sorry. Considering our cities’ air it just might be better if we come up with an advanced Recruitment Plan for the traffic cops. You know, it involves a perishable skill or rather it involves the perishable & the skilled (?).

The private cars! Seeing the way two wheelers dominate the highways it’s hardly a wonder that the cars are ranked below them. Over the years, the average NCR resident has grown to match the taxi drivers in every aspect of recklessness; whether the number plate is white or blue or yellow the owner shall always be off color.

Obviously, cyclists in the NCR never take any risks. Before making a cut to the right they stop and gulp down a spoonful of sweet yogurt for good luck. Some have even started keeping a knife under the bicycle seat. Kejriwal has objected to this practice saying  the Centre is carrying out its agenda to promote violence in Delhi.

Since cyclists are bullied and spooked to the left most lane our greatest nemesis is others’  pit stop — the ignorant man aware of the benefits of coconut water; the father attending the P.T.M.; the guy on the phone with Rohit Shetty  who wishes to cast him for his death defying driving skills. Of course, after the overtake, it’s the cyclist who gets the call.

All’s not lost as when stuck in traffic only us cyclists can hop off, get hold of the main bar of the cycle and heave it to the desired spot with the swagger of the Schwarzenegger.

Hasta La Vista.

Silly Phone Conversations

Speaking as an introvert, social obligations are usually the red lights of my daily traffic of thoughts that I must jump for the sake of my sanity. Sometimes, we are even forced out of our vehicles at one of these red lights which makes our morbid fetish for roundabouts seem reasonable.

But there’s this one chowk which is yet to have a roundabout, much to my dismay. It’s aptly named Needless Phone Calls.

Maturity is heralded not by starting a bank account rather by the realization that the greatest of movies are spookily connected to needless phone calls. Who better to comment on this than me, a veteran recluse with a wide assemblage of missed calls to boast of.
I don’t know about you but painfully stretched out phone conversations with younger cousins haunt me like squatting on a western commode. Now please, don’t even chuckle, what if I were to fall?
Ironically, the perpetrators of this 3rd degree torture are my Parents. Yup, a common scene in my household stars my mother pacing up and down the stairs or glancing down the balcony, or making an omelette or dusting the almirah all the while she’s holding her cell phone to her left ear, murmuring in the affirmative to a relative of ours: ‘Hmm…yes…correct…um…yes’.

Pretty harmless, you might say. On the contrary, things get very annoying once I am called out. Irrespective of my whereabouts in the house my parents sniff out my presence, probably because it reeks of asocial pheromones (?). This is done just so that I could engage in an everlasting enlightening conversation with an equally clueless but less agitated younger cousin.
Then begins a 30 second period of enhanced multitasking for my mother who now has to see to my petition for letting go of this double jeopardy being handed out to me; I had already faced a barrage of questions from the neighbours(about my studies, of course). Mom’s involved in two conversations now; one being carried under the breath with me and the other leaving her breathless with its artificial zeal which can only be associated with distant relatives.
But it ain’t multitasking for long, folks; as she refuses to hear me out leave alone understanding the fact that my quota for social interactions is over for the day.
Shifting gears, I request her to dish out flat lies— I have gone to the market, I am in the toilet, I am studying, that sort of thing.
Few seconds and more gear shifts later, I am on the phone, gushing and blushing to my Uncle—‘Hello uncle! How are you?’—as a prelude to the exciting dialogue with my younger cousin that lay ahead.
The first 10 seconds—thank my stars–are consumed in exchanging health statuses. Then, neither of the two utters a word. Neither.
I want to be appalled at the listlessness of the koala at the other end but I cannot.
I want to ask Indian parents of their obsession with arranging marriages and conversations but  I cannot. I want to…
Knock! Knock!, my stoic self thumps me.
‘Look Kiddo, it’s the elder who has to break the ice. Go on. Go.’
So, I proceed with the usual stuff: ‘Aur, kya kar rah hai?’
That the naughty tiny tots have a penchant for coming across as little bad asses is what strikes me when pat, comes the reply with a giggle : ‘aap hi se toh baat kar raha hun, bhaiya’.
There, another roadblock.
Nonetheless, I keep marching on; fishing for just about anything to work upon so as to extend the conversation up to the cut-off length, long enough for the aunts and uncles and my own parents to deem the exchange ‘cordial’.( Or else, I’d hear a shot in my ear accompanying the disapproving look on my parents: ‘Bas itni si baat? You should’ve asked him about his studies, sheesh’.)
Sadly, part of that cordiality lies in acknowledging the ‘witty’ reply.
‘Ha-ha…uh..pehle kya kar raha tha?’
‘Nothing much. TV dekh raha tha.’
Aha! I almost scream triumphantly. TV. Finally, I have something to say.
Naturally, I quiz him regarding what it was that he was watching; feeling relaxed that a needless talk was nearing the sweet end it badly needed.
The answer wasn’t so sweet- ‘Tarak mehta ka ooltah chashma’.
‘Thundering Typhoons’, I mutter to myself.
Even Comedy Nights would’ve been better. But I know how I could deal with this!

In circumstances like these, many would advise to take refuge the futility of talking about weather. Yes, weather.
Call on humans to enjoy the concept of telephonic conversation yet on the other hand, fail to realize the umpteen weather reports flooding the internet.
No, we’d rather get surveillance audio from our ‘correspondent on the scene’.
As a rule, I keep a list of well founded remarks on weather which —if the need arises– I let slither into the conversation to spew their mundanity .
It works in my favour if it had rained in my or the koala’s territory few days prior to the said conversation.
I wish to guide my readers on how to get out of this tiring situation.

If it had rained in either’s place, comment on the timing of the monsoon. Be overjoyed about its early arrival. Lament on its late arrival. Compare with the previous year’s monsoon.

If it hadn’t rained, comment on global warming. Be overjoyed about  Glucon-D. Lament on the absence of monsoon. Compare with previous year’s monsoon.

You’d be in for a field day if there was a hailstorm.

‘Achha! Olay padhe wahan!’

What a sterile conversation! Soon the parents themselves would snatch the phones away.

Padhayi Kaisi Chal Rahi Hai?

Apart from ‘score kya hai?’, our pet question is: padhayi kaisi chal rahi hai? Sometimes with a touch of seriousness, rarely with care and mostly with condescension, this thundering query if at all one, is delivered with utmost precision hurting our hair cells.
From the aimless walker to the big-eyed neighbor, everyone’s in on it. But what leaves me stumped is the kind of enquiries which possibly mean nothing,  satiated or not : Achha, beta school bus kahan aati?
Surprisingly (or maybe not ), no mix of gesticulation and vagueness could dodge these Doubts. So, you find yourself helplessly staring into the eyes of this creature. This Creature. A cross between Mantis Shrimp and Arnab Goswami, this Creature wants to know. Big time.
Feel blessed if this creature is willing to share information of its own. But if it’s about a son in the UK we don’t want to know.
Here’s one more: “beta, which Stream?”
Perhaps, the most painful query is the simplest because of the accusatory and ridiculing manner with which it’s asked.
“Beta, karte kya ho?”
A common theme you may have  taken note of is the recurrent ‘Beta’. Beware, this is a widely used tactic as a means to attach a para-parental emotion to the Doubts so that we, the ‘Betas’ trip.
My fellow victims who have undergone the arduous cycle of sharing their school name, sharing their school address, recalling their board exam results, recalling their board exam centres ( yes, it happens ) more than once, I have a few tips for us, preys.

1. Morning or evening, always leave home wearing sport shoes.
Why? Just break into a jog upon  the sight of the feared creature. Like farting, a swift, distant wave of the hand is acceptable when one’s out for a run. Correction, farting is never acceptable.
2. Mostly, these creatures’ ‘concerns’ are tightly squeezed between 2 early morning, shortly spaced burps but a few choicest words shall fool you.
Beware:

  • Faculty – They use this with staggering subtlety. The ‘Teacher’ has slipped into archaism, never to be uttered except when matters pertain to Kendriya Vidyalaya.
  • Quota – Ah! The perennial favourite of the reservation smitten Indian. The creature is, intriguingly, blessed with reasoning as well, that allows it to deduce the quota from your surname. Beta, OBC toh bhara hoga na? Achha hai, achha hai.
  • Ho Jayega! – This phrase often goes unnoticed courtesy its ostensible purity. That’s not all, it has an immense jurisdiction spanning DU and AMU. The bluff in Ho jayega can be easily called by a trained eye in lieu of the fact that it is  performed with an upward tilt of the head while the lower body, as if having a mind of its own defiantly massages the testicles.
    But like many things subtle, this is a bomb. Aptly speaking, a time delay fragmentation anti-personnel hand grenade, one that is gifted to you for you to pull out the safety pin and bam!! Let me explain.
    Seemingly to quell the non-existent anxiety of the parent by sharing its own life lessons as it leaves to buy a previously owned Bajaj scooter, the creature mumbles a Ho Jayega in reference to the said parent’s child.
    Of course, this makes the parent wonder if the creature was talking about the constipated neighbor’s bowel movements.
    Seconds later, he’s in a fix trying trying to discern whether it was a concern or a con who shunned his son. Behold, the pin has been pulled.

3 R.I.G.G. – We all have been in situations that demand hurling expletives at the creature but the societal norms keep pulling us back. Mind you, I am not talking about the ‘F’ word and other western fancies that have adulterated our otherwise colorful North Indian Language.
What I mean is pure Hindi expletives. Pure.
To tackle this, I have come up with a tactic which I euphemistically refer to as: RIGG.
Note: since the societal norms break down in Delhi, RIGG is rendered obsolete. Hence, the reader is advised to use our fond slang sans hesitation.
RIGG stands for random incoherent gibberish generation which is a complex way of appreciating the need to come up with bullshit that nullifies our over concerned creatures.
Somewhere in India, it’s a beautiful morning and the birds are chirping.
“Hello beta. How are you?”
Beta avoiding eye contact, looks up to study the sky.
“Beta?”
“Oh! Hello Uncle. Beautiful stars, aren’t they?” The boy exclaimed, desperately.
“You mean the sun?” The creature asked, not flattered.
“Uh oh..yea.” He mumbled.
“So, how was the Mains? Which rank did you secure?”
“It went well, uncle. My position was 981.5.” He replied with the greatest poker faces of them all.

Point 5? Oye, what is that? Said the creature, bemused.
“Oh, that! Don’t you know, uncle?”
“What? Tell me. Tell me.” Persuaded the creature, such detail mongers they are.
The beta tactfully continues with RIGG by pretending to extract long lost bit of information from the nooks and corners of its memory lane.
“Uncle, it’s a new system of rankings devised by the mathematics department of Dafukunoich  University, Russia.” The beta informs, his frontalis muscle forming the ‘v’.
“Let me gather the terminology, sire.”
An unprecedented silence prevails. Shhhh…

“Yes! The French words lost me for a while, you know. It’s called Sagan Décimal Nombre Système. Yup, SDNS.” He said, pumped up.

“But uncle, this featured on the news chann…uncle, why are you leaving? Uncle? Sire?”

Don’t worry about the mismatch between the Russian university, American scientist and the French words. It’s all a part of the game.