Twinkle twinkle little bat, how we wonder what you’re at!

My husband, Manik has been behind me for weeks to share this episode, so here it goes.

It was a regular summer day…muggy, sleepy and uneventful. The only good part was that it was a Saturday, so no school. I was 12 and my sister 14 yo at that time.

To break the monotony, dad made a plan to go visit our favourite uncle, RC and his family for dinner.

It was late evening, we all got ready to leave for RC’s home. Dad was driving his Maruti 800 at a speed of a fighter jet, mum sat in front chanting God’s name, my sister and I at the back-seat staring outside our windows.  It was near dusk with sky pinkish dark in the distance. Half way through our journey, the car’s AC stopped working and it started to get suffocating. Dad rolled down the windows and now we had the warm but calming balmy air, kissing our faces. We all were silent, lost in our train of thoughts.

And then there was a loud scream. It was my sister. Watching her, I screamed and like a chain reaction, my mum did, followed by my dad. Dad slowed down, all of us stared at my sister and she uttered the ominous words, “there’s something in the car!” What the effing eff do you mean by “something”??? We all started yelling different things now…. “stop the car!” … “what’s in the car?”… “…you saw what?”… “are you mad?”… There was commotion, argument, panic – utter chaos.

Dad stopped the car, we all frisked it and nothing was amiss. We gave my sister an evil eye and continued the journey. It was eerily quiet in the car. And then we heard a flutter. Everyone ignored. And it fluttered again. We looked behind and…

…it was a bat. 

Inside our car. 

There was a bat fluttering in the car. Our eyes got wider. I felt numb. And then we all screamed murder. I wished I was dead. I wished we were delusional. 

Dad immediately applied the breaks and in the next second all of us jumped out of the car. A crazy family of four standing on the roadside with car doors open – trembling, paralyzed, nervously laughing, all at once.

It was dark now. Someone had to get that bat out. We three women looked at my dad. I saw terror in his eyes but hey, wasn’t he the cool, “I’ve got this” type dad? With reputation at stake, he braced himself to creep in. He took mum’s stole, wrapped it around his face and craned his neck inside the car. The bat started flying laps.

After a good 30 minutes of drama of dad chasing the bat out, my sister and I giving instructions, and mum yelling, “don’t go near it” – my brave dad did it. He got the bat fly out. I think we saw it flying out but it was too dark to be sure.

Dad signalled to get back in the car. We leapt in hesitatingly, locked the doors, rolled up the windows, looked at each other and… laughed, hysterically.

With no AC in the car and humidity at it’s peak, we spent rest of our journey wiping sweat dripping down our neck, face and back. And that’s when dad said, “it’s too hot in here, shall I roll down the windows?” and we screamed together “hell, no!!!”.

Love is sharing (or tossing!) your popcorn

My dad’s experiences, his stories have always been peculiar. But let me, for now, shift the focus from one weird person in my life to another – introducing my good friend, Rohit aka Lost Bandar.

Rohit and I had a choppy start. Rocky for me, rocking for him. Now those who know Rohit would easily relate to what i’m saying, while others too will by the end of this blog.

A decade and a half ago my sister asked me to join her for a movie with her friends whom I’d never met before. I had just finished school, actually 14 years of exile in a girls convent and any movie with anyone seemed a great idea.

Cut two – my sister and I were waiting outside the movie theatre for her friends. Soon I saw a bunch of noisy people walking towards us. All of them seemed normal but this one guy – at first he was walking with eyes shut, then started jumping around, then climbed on a tree and finally rode piggyback on a friend’s shoulder. This was Rohit. Besides a crazy entry, all he did was talked, joked and laughed on his own weird jokes a million times in the first 10 minutes of our meeting.

As we took seats in the theatre, i made sure that I sat far away from Rohit. Because, one – he didn’t fit my definition of “being normal” and two, he hadn’t stopped talking-joking-laughing. The movie started, lights were off, Rohit wasn’t anywhere near and I was at peace. I heard occasional loud laughs and knew where they were coming from but I could totally ignore them like a champ UNTIL a popcorn came flying and sat on my head. Before I could react, there was another. And another and now it was raining popcorn – all clear shots. I tried to but couldn’t see anything in the dark. Hell, in my heart of hearts I knew who was behind this.

The movie ended and Rohit sprang in front of me holding his popcorn bucket. He saw the popcorn mountain around me and laughed so hard that he actually fell on the floor and unwittingly (so he says) tossed the whole bucket on my head.

I was never meeting him again (obviously) but then there’s very little one can do when life jumps out and bites you in the ass… We met. And guess what, he was still talking-joking-laughing. Thankfully this time he was getting under someone else’s skin but hey, he was funny. Imagine being around someone really annoying but funny. That’s Rohit, who’s also my good friend now. I hate him. I love him. Till date he never fails to bring out these unsettling mix of conflicting emotions in me. We’ve done heaps of crazy vacations together and I’ve learnt that he’s normal when he’s mad. His presence lights up the room but not without you wanting to chuck popcorn or a brick at him.

Don’t they say that everyone has an annoying friend, and if you don’t have one, it’s probably you. I think I’ve found mine. Phew! And I hope he never changes… EVER.


Lipstick speaks LOUDER than words

Just remembered this story from the past. I’m getting back to writing after a very long time and what better way to resume writing, than with another retarded story from my dad’s life.
This must be around the time when I was a kid, and quite an ugly one. Which means teens? Nah, this means pretty much 80% of my life. Anywho, getting back to the story… It was a regular Sunday morning…mum was preparing breakfast in the kitchen, dad was up to a million things – mostly futile, my sister and I getting bored. Suddenly my dad got this crazy idea to entertain us by WEARING MUM’S MAKE-UP! He plucked a bindi (red sticker Indian women put on their forehead) from the side of the mirror and daintily placed on his forehead. Picked a red lipstick and smeared it on his lips. Made a ponytail – yes, he had horrendous looking mid length hair because that’s the look he thought enhanced his personality best. Never mind.
With all that stuff on his face, he came walking to us pretending that absolutely nothing was unusual. We saw his face and burst out laughing. He looked crazy. Next he went to mum in the kitchen. She jumped for scaring the living daylights out of her. Not too pleased by that look, mum started screaming at dad, we split our sides, dad danced around irritating mum to another level and the drama continued.
Soon the breakfast was ready and we all sat at the table. As we were in the middle of our meal, the door bell rang. Dad got up to answer the door and it was our neighbour. Dad smiled and went about chatting with him… When uncle left, Dad came back to the table and casually mentioned how this particular neighbour is quite weird – he wasn’t sure why he came to our house, he looked distracted, didn’t know what he was talking about, kept staring… Kept staring?!!!And that’s when the penny dropped.
Dad darted to see his face in the mirror. His face flushed, not with the red of the lipstick but utter embarrassment while ours did out of laughing hard and falling off our chair.
And that’s how my dad unknowingly managed to scare our neighbour away. It surely was an entertaining Sunday. I don’t call ours a madhouse for no reason.
Poor Dad or poor neighbour?

“What else…???”, he said.

It takes all sorts to make a world. And this phrase isn’t hard to believe at all if you have a fate like mine that you unintentionally, improbably end up meeting odd characters, everywhere. And yes, at times at the most bland, hence unexpected places – say, a mother dairy booth!

Now how much time does one spend at a mother dairy booth during a visit? And how much would you interact with anybody there that you end up writing a blog on them. Here I introduce to you the hero of my story – Mr. Weirdo – a seemingly shabby-looking, over animated, lanky, in his late 40s, spectacled mother dairy uncle – standing behind the counter, hence unfortunately, difficult to miss.

A few weeks back, on a usual evening my husband and I were driving back home from office, when over a regular struggle of what to have for dinner today, we realized that there are no eggs in the house. No eggs means we want to have eggs only! En route, we stopped at a mother dairy booth. This time my husband, who has been otherwise trained well to jump off the car whenever anything boring needs to be bought, got into a drama where he refused to step out and was clear that this time I go and buy eggs. I, trying hard to shrug off my general, perennial laziness, lackadaisically headed towards the counter and asked for eggs. Now, to anyone, does that sound unfitting?

To explain further, I go to the counter and ask Mr. Weirdo – “bhaiya ten eggs de do please.”

Weirdo’s response – “Hain?? Kya?

I – still patiently, “Bhaiya ten eggs.”

Weirdo – with that twitched face again, “Kya?

I – now irritatingly and slowly, “Bhaiya, dus ande de do.”

Weirdo – now suddenly possessed by some wandering British aatma – “Oh sure!”

What! What did he just say? Zapped and now feeling royally out of place, I stare at him with raised eye brows.

Oh sure! Did he really say that? And what’s with that accent? With these questions still racing in my head, I am brought out of my trance when he utters again, in the same freaking accent – “Forty rupees only!

I, dig for 40 bucks in my wallet. Hurriedly pay him. And while leaving say a quick thanks.

Response – Bye bye!

Reallyyyyy!!!! Bye bye! Did he really say that? Without turning back I ran to my car and sat quietly, trying to forget what just happened.

Scene 2: Another fight in the car when my husband wins yet again, and I have to step out of the car and buy yoghurt from… Guess Guess??? The same mother dairy!

Once bitten, twice shy! Yes, with this running like a promptor in my head, I reach the counter and in full desi accent – “bhaiya, ek packet dahi de do.” And this time, a conversation minus usage of please and any etiquette.

Don’t know why, but he recognizes me.

He turns to me, again getting possessed with this Brit spirit, opens his mouth only to say – “what?

I – “Suna nahi. Dahi, ek packet. De do.”

Weirdo – “Only one?”

I (in my head screaming, don’t play this English-Hindi game with me, you ass!)– “haanji!”

Weirdo – “Box or panni?”

Whatttt!!! Panni!!!! Really, Mr. Weirdo!

I, self-consciously, point towards the packet.

Now when I thought it was over. The Weirdo is back in form.

Now in slow motion, forgetting that there are 5 other people standing there watching this free drama and feeling all amused, Weirdo utters in great style, not only in accent but in posture too (with his arms spread wide on the counter) – “What else?”

Giggles by the on-lookers. Awkwardness enveloping me.

I (this time rudely) – “Nahi. Kuch nahi.” And dang! I do that mistake again!!! I say, thank you.

Weirdo – Bye bye!”

Ohhhh…. I wanna kill him! Wring his neck and get all those Brit juices out of him!

I run towards my car leaving behind entertained people and retarded but full of style milk uncle. I sit in my car silently for 2 minutes. And sign a deal – a deal that never will I go to this, or any other mother dairy booth again! Ever!

The Weirdo @ Mother Dairy!

The Weirdo @ Mother Dairy!

I got a fast car…fast enough so we can fly away…

Women just can’t drive! – Every woman must have heard this comment from her father, brother, boyfriends, neighbor uncle, and for that matter, even random men on the road – themselves driving like a bull in a china shop but still not thinking twice before making this motherhood statement.

Even I learnt driving quite late in my life, but trust you me, it wasn’t an easy one. Of some good 5 attempts of learning how to control my 4X, it was only the last one where I came out with flying colors. Reason – the last one was NOT taught by my dad! Neither my husband! But it was Yadav uncle (my loveliest), who deserves all the credit.

Yadav uncle is one of the most patient men I have ever come across. The way he talks to you, the way he addresses your silliest of the silly queries and even the way he teaches you how to drive – his conduct is par excellence. And I was his lucky student.

Every morning Yadav uncle would give me a missed call on my mobile phone to wake me up from slumber, and in his unique rhythmic voice would say…”Betaji, utho”. Pulling myself out of my cozy quilt, I would, half asleep, gear myself up for the game called ‘driving’.

Apart from his one shady habit of always asking for money, Yadav uncle was a perfect teacher. One podgy, spirited uncle, he must be in his 50s and was much acclaimed of giving driving lessons to almost all the kids in our society.

Whether it was a maddening traffic area or an open expressway, whether it was street full of cows and rickshaws or the magical yet filthy back lanes of Qutub Minar, whether it was a sunny morning or a heavily rain-filled day, Yadav uncle knew exactly how to keep his calm, rather how to help me keep my cool.

His comments while driving would make me laugh out loud or leave me speechless, and how I would control myself from pulling his cheeks or at times his hair! Few of his masterpieces that are worth mentioning…

Situation 1 – A cycle rickshaw in front of my car moving at an annoying snail pace on a one way, single lane.

Obvious reaction: I honked to give me side.
Yadav uncle’s reaction: in his typical cadenced tone –  Na Betaji. Ye rickshaw wale bohot gareeb hote hain…inhe horn nahi maarte.
My reaction to that! : What in God’s name that has to do with my driving!!!

Situation 2 – Suddenly a horse from nowhere comes in front of my car. (Yes, even that happens on the roads of Delhi)

Obvious reaction: I applied sudden breaks.
Yadav uncle’s reaction: Once again singing… –  Betaji, aage ghoda hai. Isse bachana hai, maarna nahi.
My reaction to that! : Really Yadav uncle! I know that too!!!

Situation 3 – I (still wondering how I managed that) bumped my car into a happily stationed car at a traffic signal.

Obvious reaction: I, shitting bricks and wanting to pass out
Yadav uncle’s reaction: Signaling me to stay in the car…carrying his chubby frame out on the road and smiling at the now furious driver… – Arre bhai, ab gaadi road pe aayegi to accident to hoga. Chalo kuch nahi hota, naraaz mat ho.
My reaction to that! : Yadav uncle, can you for God’s sake apologize and not start off with your discourse.
Situation 4 – Its pouring cats and dogs at 5 am, and today’s lesson is reversing the car in some random lanes of Maharani Bagh. I see him all restless, dancing in the car seat…acting strange. Suddenly he gets down from the car and instructs me to practice reversing the car, while he disappears somewhere in the heavy rains…

Obvious reaction: I get stuck while reversing and start abusing Yadav uncle in my head. I continue to crane my neck in all directions, just to discover him hiding behind the bush and peeing happily in the rains.
Yadav uncle’s reaction: On discovering that I’ve figured his reason for disappearance – betaji, yeh bhi to zaroori hai. Dhoop ho ya baarish, aa hi jata hai.
My reaction to that! : Yadav uncleeee!!! Stop explaining and shut up!
Despite all his weirdness, Yadav uncle continues to be my favorite. And on this day of Gurupurab, I dedicate this post to him.

PS: Though I believe I drive well, but while I drive, anyone sitting next to me always has one hand on the hand break! Still wondering why… 

“Whose hand is this?” he shrieked…

This blog is dedicated to Madras, Gemini flyover, sambaar, dosa…and all the blessed souls still haggling with the auto annas in Chennai.

There are times when it’s practically impossible to differentiate your one day from another. The same daily chore – wake up, freshen up, get dressed for work, work…get drained, come back home, eat, sleep. Then wake up again the next day, freshen up…and it goes on.

But what happens when on an otherwise regular dreary day, there’s something startling that you experience, and from there on you develop a fear…a fear of the unknown hand!

This was the summer of 2010…

…the summer when I, along with my other north Indian friends was trying to decode the art of living in the city of Madras. Every single day was a new experience. Every single encounter was matchless in its own strange way. And every single auto rickshaw-ride was like surrendering to death, each time.

Anyone who has been to Chennai even once and was privileged to enjoy the auto rickshaw ride would completely relate to this common notion – every auto anna is Rajnikanth in the makingand every auto rickshaw ride would give an experience of sitting in a flying open-air F-20 Tigershark, which not just offers adrenalin rush but also minor heart attacks and may be a short trip to the grave and back.

The story is about my friends, Sniggy and Bobby on the roads of Chennai, in the silent summer night. 

Like every day, Sniggy and Bobby headed for dinner to some shady restaurant, straight from work. Once there, they hogged on bowls of sambaar, glasses of rasam and variety rice. By the time they finished, it was already late and that’s when they decided to hire an auto from outside the restaurant. They were now being driven back to their homes. Chennai like always was dead by this hour – with streets looking empty, dark and uncanny.

Both quiet, were staring outside at the stillness of the night, when suddenly Bobby felt a hand on his shoulder. Knowing it is Sniggy’s, he limply turned towards her and was stoned in horror! Sniggy had both her hands resting calmly on her lap.

Eyes wide with fright, shitting bricks, Bobby shrieked his lungs out, “WHOSE HAND IS THISSS…?” Screaming like maniacs, both Bobby and Sniggy leapt out of the speeding possessed auto…gunning for their lives. And that’s when they heard a baby cry…

A baby crying! In the auto rickshaw! In the middle of a dark-f***ing-silent night!!!

Seeing half their bodies flying outside, peeved auto anna yelled in his massacred English, “Saar – shhh…my baby…sleeping-aa…auto backside-aa!”

The moment froze. And so did the auto rickshaw. Sniggy still shaking and Bobby numb in disbelief. 
With defunct legs and sprinting heartbeat, they decided to get down from the auto and walk back home, praying that the remaining handful night is saner and ordinary.

Even after four years, when observed, both Sniggy and Bobby unfailingly frisk the rear of the auto before placing their rear on its seat.

When daddy met lizzie…

This blog is truly dedicated to my dad – someone whom I brand as a living repertoire of craziness and bottomless humor.

Since childhood, one thing that has been a constant source of laughter and sheer amazement to me is my dad’s stories and bizarre experiences. Be it stopping a public bus in the middle of the road to teach the driver a lesson, or travelling on the train top, or crossing villages in trucks and tractors or teasing a bull sitting under the tree and then running Milkha to save his own life… In fact many a time I have been made to believe that my own quirky episodes are nothing but genetic, dad-sent and come as a legacy to me.

But dad’s dad! His absolute goodness is reflected in his regular day, and that when coupled with his level of madness, creates an eccentric combination of awe and glee.

This one particular incident would stay with me forever. In fact I have narrated this to a million people till now, in both sober and smashed state – and have received the same mixed reaction of ‘awww… and hahahaha…’, time after time. So one more time…

Dad, on a usual summer day, was sauntering in the house from one room to another. As he entered the kitchen he spotted a lizzie (a house lizard) sitting at the windowsill, gazing at him. Hovering around it, stomping his foot and clapping his hands to shoo it away, dad tried his best to make the lizzie move. Flabbergasted by such stock-still conduct, he sat down watching closely his new small and skittish friend…and there it all began…

…an instant cosmic connect (and with dad in question, can imagine ABBApixies dancing on the tunes of Fernandoin the background) and budding general fondness, both daddy and lizzie, looked at each other with what else but affection. Still wondering why his friend didn’t move or flinch, dad did some R&D around it and figured that it was sitting on some sticky fluid and was fixed on the sill.

All emotions pouring from every artery and nerve in his heart, dad carefully lifted lizzie with his bare hand and took it to the wash-basin. With all his efforts to be gentle and hospitable, dad scouted for something to clean lizzie’s base so that it doesn’t get stuck on the surface again. There he found something soft and bristly (as lizzies are smooth at the base – and this I know from my dad only!). With his shaving brush in one hand and lizzie in another, dad dipped the brush in a puddle of shampoo, which again he managed by inverting a bottle of my favorite L’Oreal, and started laundering.

Happily enjoying the wash, friend lizzie didn’t twist or turn and sat calmly between his fingers. Once done, dad checked whether it’s really clean by putting it back on the floor and lifting again. Eureka! It was back to its plain, non-sticky self.

Realizing (read coming back to his senses) that the relationship should last only for this much time, and with half of his own family running helter-skelter screaming ,‘dad has lost his marbles’ and another half almost passed out – dad goes back to the windowsill and bids adieu to his friend…the small and skittish one.

Earnest request to dad – …please stop using that shaving brush. This father’s day, let’s buy you a fresh one meant for shaving purpose only!   

Let’s play “if I were…”

Cheers to the first one… and this one’s for you Smriti. Much love.

Not a very flashy title to begin with my first blog, but because the memories are so fresh that I would definitely want to capture this insane incident, which proved me nothing less than a retard, yet again!

To set the stage in your minds, this was one big night for me and many others who had worked with my now exited boss, Smriti. It was her farewell night. After exchanging some emotional notes in office, a gang of 12 of us headed for a party, with only music, alcohol and dance on our minds, and needless to say, heavy hearts emotionally wired with that of Smriti’s.

And here it begins…

As we entered the club, we witnessed the usual. Usual because this would be the nth time we were coming to this place and I think that’s how all clubs are decorated…with loud music, dim lights, skimpily clad girls, hot and not-so-hot men, and all this comes complimentary. But this time what we had as a special offering was a bunch of boisterous Punjabi men and women dancing on the tunes of Maroon 5 with glass of whiskey on their head. As we slowly circled our necks around, the scene seemed strange but of course, by now each one of us was so used to the drill of first feeling awkward, and then fueling our system with spirit and finally being a part of such distinctive crowd.

We all walked towards our table, settled ourselves into our seats, one level above the dance floor and started exchanging happy notes. One drink down…and two…and three…and now it was time to rock and roll.

After few hours of dancing, realizing that we aren’t too young to continue for another minute and not too old to call quits, we decided to head back to our seats where we had our left over food and drinks waiting.

Suddenly, Prachi – one of the pretty, light-eyed missies in our team, comes to me and suggests, let’s play ‘if I were…’. To help the drunken me understand what exactly the game is, she starts explaining – for example, if you were Shruti Rawat, you would barge into that group of guys, and start dancing with that angrez standing right there (conveniently pointing towards him, making it beautifully OBVIOUS).

As I type, I’ve devoured another “E” of Toblerone, realizing this was the last E!

I, being my usual self (here I would want you readers to refer to my introduction, of how my senses work when a guy smiles at me…), follow the ‘Prachi-given’ instructions making her believe that I’ve understood the game to the tee, and head straight to the table. Standing right in front of that seemingly-angrez looking guy (or to put it rightly, imagine a love-child of Enrique and Tiger Shroff. Yoikes!) I begin my saga of mortification. Picturing myself nothing less than a desi-Shakira, I move like one demented girl in polka dotted dress looking straight into his eyes and smiling like always, ear-to-ear. Embarrassed to his gut, the poor chap left with no other option but to twist and turn, stands up and starts dancing – stuck to the ground, not moving an inch from where he is and smiling lovingly at me (blush blush) and being a true sport.

Just when it all seemed to be getting beyond comprehension, what came to my rescue was a change in the song by the DJ that pulled me back to my apparently matured friends with weird game ideas, who stood there half shocked, half embarrassed, half rolling on the floor laughing and if there was any room left for another emotion, it would be of judging me as ‘one crazy woman’.

Trying to be high on sangfroid and adding some drama to my reactions, I smiled at them sheepishly, batting my eye lashes…waiting to be tagged in the heads of my friends, pseudo angrez and the remaining audience as nothing less than a retard, yet again!

What followed were the aftershocks. I thought my jig got captured only in the minds of few tipsy friends, but no…there was a sober one with a camera!

***dear alcohol, we had a deal where you would make me wittier, debonair, and a better dancer… I saw my pictures of the jig, guess we need to talk.***