29 November 2007

Last in the boat race

One of the important things of writing is the parts you omit. There is a tendency with writers to write everything. People don't have time for essays. This I have learned in a hard way. All my articles - longer than 2000 words, have not been well received. Now I make a point to limit my articles for 1500 words.

I have found that articles on a single theme won't sell much; where as a group of anecdotes make an interesting article. This is because reader has a better chance of liking any one of the anecdote.

Following article is a single theme article. I tried to make it as interesting as possible. It is a daunting task; need to avoid this kind of articles in future. You can also read it on daiji here.

Last in the boat race
Some people know how they are going to die. I am one of them. That is one thing I share with Owen Meany and Sandra Bullock – premonition!

My death will be in water. Every time I was in the water something ominous had happened. One time my Jet-Ski toppled in mid sea; I was hanging there till rescue team saved me and wife.

God saved me all these days. Some day he will get bored, he would say: Lets try something different this time! That would be my end.

Mississippi Masala
I am yet to see the places Sha-Rukh-Khan roamed in Kal Ho Na Ho or more inflammable Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna. Unfortunately there are some highly unromantic places in US. One of them is Mississippi. I know, because I was there!

More than 50% of Mississippi is forest that means every now and then you meet deer, raccoons and other rodents on your way to office. Long boring highways, houses miles apart - a place for hermits and artists! That’s how Mississippi has managed to produce Mark twain, John Grisham and Elvis!

These boring long days made me crave for any gatherings or outings. Gatherings were rare though, I was the first one on the venue when there was one. There was an official email for canoeing – I missed it. The mail got lost among the hundreds of unwanted mails I receive everyday!

Jesus loves you
I receive nearly 200 mails a day. Almost 99% percent of them are not related to me in anyway. Most of them are spam, promotions, deals, forwards which I had already read long back. If I read all these mails I won’t be able to do anything else.

That day, I saw a mail with subject JESUS LOVES YOU. I also receive mails from fanatics! Inside there were 10 reasons why Jesus loved me. The mail also highlighted the point that sinners were his favorites!

At the bottom there was a strict instruction to forward the mail to 10 more people in 5 minutes or something ominous would happen. I wonder what kind of morons generate these mail chains - deleted the mail. That’s when I saw the canoe mail. I was the last one to register for the canoe venture, it was in the afternoon.

Land of no-network
When I reached the river (it was a tributary) no one was there except for an old man.
“What’s your name?” he asked. He was clearly irritated by my delay.
“Tony Montana” – I wanted to say, but was afraid he won’t catch the joke; told my name.

"You are late, your team has left half hour back" he said.
"You can not take cell and camera" he further informed. That is why there are no - tourists grinning besides medieval monuments - kind of pictures in this article! The idea of being “disconnected” with the rest of the world scared me.

My grand father never used a cell.
"Grandpa you need a cell" I used to tell him.
"I don't need one;” he would say “most of my friends are at a place where there is no network coverage".

That was long back. He was a no-gadget person. He was content without a cell and email id. He was a happy man. Some time back he has joined his friends - at the place with no-network!

I was excited, jumped into the canoe. Wife, Reema took the back seat; started rowing instantly. Few meters in water realized that I was unaware of the duration,
"How long is this trip?" asked the old man.
"You will get an END sign in two hours!"

"What?!!" but then the canoe had already gained speed by the current.

Mission Impossible
What surprised me was that the river was real and wild. It was not a man made canal as I was expecting.

"You said it is a 10 minutes trip"
"That’s what I thought”. There is a boat ride near Manasa, Mangalore – I was expecting something similar.

It was our first canoe experience.

"What are we going to do for two hours?” she was scared “Let’s abort this - Control ALT Del" last sentence was the result of too much exposure to - virtual world!

"There is NO Control Alt Del. Welcome to real world!" I said.

Mystic River
The water was surprisingly cold and muddy. The surrounding forest was dense; our team was no where in the vicinity. There was an eerie noise of unknown creatures of the wild. It was creepy.

"I am scared, let’s go back!" Reema said.
"You can not go back! We can not row upstream"

There were no sign posts, no volunteers. We didn't have a cell. We were alone in the wilderness.

Canoe was moving zigzag.

"Let’s figure out, how this stupid canoe works first!" it took us some time to figure that out.

Made in China
The scenery was beautiful. The kinds of you see in movies. I was so used to movie life I never thought these things existed in real life. It was like Animal planet, only you are on the other side.

There was a fallen tree, across the river.

"What do we do now?"
"We need to get down and manually push the canoe across"

It was deep; getting down was not an option.

"We need to climb the tree, and pass the canoe across"
"I can not do that"
"That’s the only way"
This whole exercise took half hour.

There were more fallen tree ahead, somehow we dodged around. Just when I thought we would pull this thing - saw a snake on one of the branches of a fallen tree.

"Snake!" she shrieked.
"Sit tight and maintain the balance;” I said “hey this is not a real snake"
"What do you mean?"
"There is a MADE IN CHINA sticker on its tail! Guess, this is a part of whole adventure."

Careful what you are wishing for!
I don’t know how long we were rowing. We had started around 1 PM. It was definitely more than 2 hours. I had lost track of time. Moving in the wild is scary – especially when you don’t know the destination.

Canoes don’t move smoothly in a straight line as they show in the sports channels. You need to have strong arms to manage them.

Now I was on the back seat, sometime back canoe had made a 180 degree turn!

“Do we have steep falls as they show in the movies?”

I didn’t bother to answer this question. Canoe was moving gracefully, for a moment I thought we made it. It was peaceful and silent. Some of the trees were precariously bent towards the water. Little turtles dived to oblivion as our canoe barged alarmingly close. It was really beautiful. It was like trance.

I was late, when I heard the piercing roar of the fall. We fell with a big arc and a huge splash.

The last thought before entering water was - Is this chaos because of not forwarding the Jesus-loves-you mail?

Being there
Water was cold. We were safe since we had life jackets. We lost hold of the Canoe. It was moving wild and away, oars were missing.

"Are you okay?"
"No" that means she was ok.
"For the records - the answer to your question is - Yes. We do have falls as they show in the movies. Careful what you are wishing for! Let’s move to the bank now"

We were drenched and shivering. Somewhere I had read that the important thing you do when you are lost is to reflect sunlight using a mirror. So that planes hovering above can track you. I wonder how practical this is.

Canoe got stuck in water-weeds along with the oars at some distance.
"We need to swim till the canoe"
"I am scared"
"Don't worry you will not drown, you have a life jacket"

I swam till the canoe. There was water in it; it was heavy and immovable from the weeds. It took a long time to drain the water.

We reached the destination around 7.00PM, four hours later than expected. There was the same old man (he reached there by land) waiting for us. Our team had already left; no one waited for us.

"We were about to send a rescue team" he said.
"Guess we saved your efforts"

"The whole experience itself terrifying; why you need to have rubber snakes to scare the rowers?" Reema asked the old man.

"There are no rubber snakes, lady; you must have seen a real one"

Then she realized the truth.
"Somebody is going to miss the dinner today!”. I was expecting this.
"Let’s get out from here" I said.
"The creep will sleep on the couch!” I was expecting this too.

Life, as usual

Wise Man
It took me two days to come out of the trauma. I was like a zombie. Some of my friends told me later, those were the only two days they had seen me NORMAL!

My manager caught me in the cafeteria. I was sad about this guy, for not waiting after the canoeing.

"I knew you will do it!” he said “Fantabulous show” this is all jargon. I don’t like people who use ‘fantabulous’ in day to day conversation. It sounds pompous, especially when you can use either fantastic or fabulous (that’s where the word has come from) for the same effect.

During my younger days, there were kids getting euphoric by maiming frogs and killing lizards. I used to wonder what would become of them in the coming years. Now I know - they become managers!

"Are you interested in our next venture, scuba diving?" he asked.
Once again water!

"No “I said
"..and why not?"
"I am afraid of sharks!"
"There are no sharks where we are going; although there was a shark incident in 1967"
"I am sure there will be one waiting for me, if I ever go there!"

A date with the almighty
When I entered the church it was empty and peaceful. I like the resonance when it is empty.
"God" I prayed “I will not say what Amitabh had said long back - AAJ KUSH THO BAHUT HOGE TUM. I simply want say - THANK YOU."


"Now give me a signal - that you heard my prayer. Some kind of chanting bells or a strong gale or falling flowers from the altar"

More silence.

Outside the church met a beggar.
"Sir, care to share a few cents" I was baffled by this sophisticated beggar. He was surprisingly well attired for a beggar. I got suspicious.

"God, are you testing me in the form of this beggar?"
"Pardon me Sir?"
"I am not talking to you!"

"What was your highest tip?" later asked him.
He told me.

"Here is that amount “gave him some bills “..And one dollar more!"
"You are a generous man" he was surprised.
"I am not generous; I simply don't take my chances with God!"

01 November 2007

Once upon a time in America

When I first wrote this article it was around 4000 words; a close friend upon reviewing informed me that it is un-publishable. Later I reedited it to 1500 words. Sometimes it is not what you write; instead what you don’t write matters. You can also read it here

"Life is much too important a thing ever to talk seriously about it." – Oscar Wilde

I once tried to calm down a barking dog which promptly bit a small chunk of flesh from my left hand. What pained me more is not the wound instead the lack of truth in the saying - BARKING DOG NEVER BITES. I wonder who makes these sayings without testing them thoroughly.

This simple incident changed my view towards the barking dogs. I realized that in real life there are dogs (even today) unaware of this saying!

Life is full of simple incidents which make a larger impact as a whole. Such an incident changed my view towards Money. During my student days, a librarian caught me returning a delayed book.
“You are late; you have 50 paisa fine!” he said. “I don’t have 50 paisa “I replied.

Those were NOT my grand father’s days were you could buy one “mudo” rice for 50 paisa. In fact 50 paisa was nothing, if you offer 50 paisa to a beggar, he would instantly throw it back on your face!
“Do you really don’t have 50 paisa?” he asked again. “I don’t have mister”
“Don’t raise your voice – beggar prince!”

Then he obliged himself with such an outrageous laugh, even now I feel difficult to sleep sometime. This trivial incident made a larger impact on my future than Pope John Paul’s visit to Mangalore!

This happened long time back; Even now I carry fairly large amount of cash for the fear that someone would laugh at me for not having sufficient funds.
Book 1 – A simple life

Power of Money
In those days (probably even now) there was more respect for guys working in super markets of Middle East than ones working for ISRO! I could not join ISRO because even though I had the imagination required for space odysseys – I lacked the technical expertise. Since I was working in India, I was a constant target for neighbors ridicule.
“So you didn’t get a Dubai opportunity?” somebody would ask with pseudo concern; as if I had some unpronounceable terminal disease and my days are numbered.

People ignored me till I made some money. I would walk in a gathering, where nobody would notice me. I was a - INVISIBLE MAN.

Finding Neverland
Whenever my friends traveled abroad I was the guy who used to drop them at airport. Just before entering the airport – they would promise me to take abroad as soon as they land in foreign land. And promptly forget the promise once inside the airport!

I used to watch the colorful environment of airports with wide eyes by see-through glasses; Groups of airhostesses giggling around with well ironed attire, indifferent towards less mortals. Software engineers with suits engrossed in their laptops. I used to wonder – what kind of mission critical code demands their attention even in busy non-work-friendly airport terminals.

“Sir, you are very close to the window” security guy would caution me; forcing me to come out of Neverland.

Ghost of the past
In between I went to Bahrain and started working there. Even though I was doing well, this American ghost or the ghost who wanted me to go to America haunted me all the time. Finally it succeeded.

I applied for H1B, and got it. Contrary to the popular belief I was not lucky; those were the days a fake resume and a little bit of imagination would fetch you H1B. I had both: ample!
Book 2 – Americana

“Are you from India?” Immigration officer asked me. “Yes sir ...land of Buddha and Gandhi” That is NOT what I said. That is what I wanted to say. Instead I said “Yes sir!” “Your stamping is done in Bahrain?”
“Yes Sir!”
“Where is Bahrain?”
“Are you Jok….” gulped my words. You don’t mess with the immigration officers anytime anywhere in the world. They are the last people whom you meet before boarding the flight. Being so near to the plane and not getting a chance to board it - is what makes them dumb-wits and jealous about the passengers!

“Bahrain is near Dubai” I said.
“Where is Dubai?” Can you believe that?!

Back home in Kinnigoli If you ask anyone at 3 AM in the morning about Dubai - he will not only tell you where it is but also enlighten you with exact geographical coordinates, climatic conditions, population, popular tourist places, future metro train schedules, flights starting from various locations, boarding place for desert safari / belli dance and also the SALIK for Jebel Ali road!

Welcome to America
Arriving in America first thing I noticed is that they drive on the wrong side! This was the first taste of many things they do in opposite ways than rest of the world. They drink in Gallons; drive in miles and earn in millions!
They are also little confusing - For example petrol is called GAS here! Helium, Ammonia and carbon dioxide are also called GAS! 101 is one-o-one! They call soccer what we call football back home; and have their own game named “American Football” in which 99% of the time you don’t use foot to pass the ball!

You don’t touch a person, anytime, not while talking or walking along, not with a close friend unless of course you are gay!
Americans love fast food; they are notorious for eating unhealthy food. They like pizza more than the Italians. I have had more burgers in my first month here than in my whole life.

Americans greet everyone, even strangers. In India if you greet a stranger he would become suspicious, defensive and may out right attack you!

The country is so fulfilling most Americans don’t go anywhere outside unless the country sends them to exotic places like Vietnam. This staying at home has made them ignorant of outside world.

In a recent survey 42% of school students could not list a single Asian country! On the contrary I can list more than 100 countries anytime.

First time when I went to a movie with Reema - caught a couple smooching.
“How can they do that?” she asked.
“Are you saying – you don’t know how to do that?!”
Only in America
Only in America you can wear under-wears similar to the national flag. In rest of the world though it’s a crime! Americans have a peculiar curiosity. This same curiosity has taken them to exotic non American places like – rat holes of Vietnam and scorching deserts of Iraq. They want to know each and everything. They are the first to land on the moon. My grand father with his limited education was intelligent enough to predict much before the lunar venture that there would be nothing significant on the moon. He had a 50 paisa wager with some of his more optimistic heavenly friends (all of them are in heaven at the moment). Of course he won the bet and bought one “mudo” rice from that amount!

Refill is free in fast food corners. If you do that in India a species would evolve which would survive only on refills!
In America you can live-in with a person of the opposite sex or the same sex (for that matter) or with a dog under the same roof, without any commitments for ages – without any eyebrows raised!
Some of the things here are unheard in third world countries, like - Diabetic medicine for dogs! I didn’t know till then that even dogs can have diabetes. Lemon scented Toilet paper – does it really matter?
King of my castle
Apart from all this, America is a nice country. It is a country built by immigrants. This is the country of opportunities. People are good. Things are much simpler here, laws are friendly. Many Americans have helped me in my initial days when ever I was in need.

My number of relatives increased (or almost doubled) once I landed in US. From INVISIBLE MAN I have become SHAKTIMAN; Don’t underestimate the power of money (Please read the previous sentence again). Most people preach you all along how bad money is, they are the ones who don’t have it!
Money can’t buy you happiness, but it can by you marijuana! Money can’t buy you health, but it can buy you a healthy nurse!
Over the period, I have found out that Success is not the commodity of a country or a race. These things can give an edge, but end of the day an individual’s efforts and attitude is what matters.

23 August 2007

An everlasting affair

My earliest memories are of Mom. In retrospect, I cannot imagine a single moment without her. Mom was always there, like a shadow, like a bodyguard. Life was mom centric!
Mom would take all my decisions; in fact she did so many things for me——she almost made me a handicap! She would sense dangers miles and hours ahead. I was 24/7 under Mom’s care.
As a child, strangers could not talk to me, they were politely denied access. I don’t have a single lone picture of my kid days; Mom is there in every one of them! My toys were carefully scrutinized not to have any sharp edges, large enough not to swallow.
I was not allowed near any of the water resources or creeks or dried—out wells. So many things were denied, there were really not many things I was allowed to do. It was a difficult child hood, almost like that of Cinderella before she met the prince!
Father and Son
For a long time, I thought Dad was a guest! He was working in the Middle East. We could see him only once a year, for a month, during Christmas. He used to come just before Santa.
Those days, I was suspicious of him, who talked, dressed and looked like me. I would wonder for hours, how he could emulate me so much. Only later, I realized the things are the other-way-around.
Since Dad was away most of the time; Mom filled the role of Dad!
Samson’s assets
Once a month, Mom would take me to Raganna——the village barber. He was the barber for Grandfather, Dad, me and may be for my children too. (This prediction has been somewhat fulfilled: Raganna’s son gave my daughter——2 years now——her first hair-cut. A few weeks back the son shaved my daughter’s head.) Years will pass, kingdoms will fall, centuries will turn, but Raganna, the good man, with his sharp scissors, simple smile, will be always available to serve the people in need of an emergency haircut!
“AS short as possible,” Mom would guide Raganna.
“Ma’am, short hair will spoil the looks of the boy.”
“We don’t want to visit you every week!” she would say. “He is not going to become a movie star.”
“I understand, perfectly” Raganna would oblige.
“Please, keep the hair bit long in the front,” I would beg him.
“Can’t do that boy, can’t imagine losing a good customer in this small village!”
Another mom
Grandma saved me a lot of times. I was her pet.
“Don’t be so strict to your son,” Grandma would tell Mom,
“I was not”
“Don’t tell…” Mom would start, but Grandma would cut her right away, “Don’t raise voice to your Mother in front of your son and be a bad example!”
For local church feast Grandma would give me 100 Rs note.
“I will give you 2 notes if you give me the one Grandma gave you” Mom would say. I would fall for it; only to realize years later that I bartered for two 10 Rs notes. Ever wonder how kids lose their innocence?
Friends in need
My friends were mortified of Mom. She would corner them and interrogate. “Are you guys my son’s friends?”
“No, ma’am” they would reply intelligently.
“I know you guys; tell me which brand you smoke?”
“WILL………yeaaks we don’t smoke”
“Do not, I repeat do not,” she would shout like a military officer, “spoil my son!”
Superman’s Identity
“I would like to have VIP underwear.” Shy to death; croak somehow those words to the salesman at the counter. In those days there used to be an VIP ad, where a naked or almost naked man jumps from the roof-top to save a girl from an imposter wearing only a VIP underwear!
What this naked man was doing on the roof-top in the first place, was beyond my comprehension! It went to my young mind that these VIP briefs would give me a macho look and some how relieve me out of Mom’s influence.
“What size?” Salesman would ask with indifference.
Before I say anything Mom would jump “22!”
“Its 24 Mom,” I would correct her.
“24 is too loose for you; give him 22,” she would order the salesman.
“What color?”
“Pink,” Mom would say.
“Pink is girlish!” I beg.
“Pink is good for you. No one is going to check anyway!” she would wink.
Doctor Holla
“Are you Prashant or Pratap?” Doctor Holla used to ask that question every time I visited him. Pratap is my younger brother. Except the surname we don’t have anything in common. One of us is a mutant; guess it is me! Strangers, upon seeing us would express serious doubts of being us belonging to the same mother. Even then, Doctor Holla would ask: “Are you Prashant or Pratap?”
He was soft spoken. I had to concentrate very hard to hear him. (The good doctor passed away some time back.)
“He is Prashant; the slower one,” Mom would reply for me.
He would slowly poke a finger at my tummy and ask “Does it hurts here?”
Mom would quickly jump, “Not there, the other side.”
Dr. Holla with his immense patience shifts his gaze slowly from my tummy to her “Ma’am, I am asking the patient.”
“You may be asking the patient, but the patient is my son!”.
Then she would continue, “give him some antibiotics and may be 1 or 2 Brufen for the pain. Nothing too strong.” At this even the mountain of patience Dr. Holla loses his control, with great difficulty he would say: “Ma’am, I am the doctor here.”
“You may be the Doctor, But I am his Mom,” She would even argue with a doctor.
Eli Eli lama sabachthani
Whenever I was alone in the church, I would pray: “God get me out of my moms influence, and take me under yours!” I would put 50 paisa and wait for response; when there was none I try again “Here is one more coin!” and wait for ever!
Before leaving the church I would whisper, “I have got more coins, think about it,” A final offer to God! Like the one in God Father – the offer he can not reject!
Unknown Future
Being kid, I was fascinated by automobiles. I wanted to be a bus driver.
“What career you want to pursue?” once a guest asked.
“I want to be a bus——”
“He will become a priest!” Mom interfered. “My other two kids will marry and have children, but this one, the slower among the three, will become a priest——he lacks competence!”
“Mom, I want to be a bus driver.”
“No, you will be a priest.”
“Can I become both?”
“What do you mean?”
“I can become a priest and bus driver at the same time. So after the mass, I can drive people around!”
“A 2-in-one, driver/priest; I don’t think that would be practical. You may need permission from Rome.”
At this point, the same guest who first asked the question would initiate, “Ma’am, why would a perfectly normal boy needs to be a priest when there are other more profiting and promising ventures available?”
“As I said he doesn’t have the competence, he is slow, like a tube-light!”
“On the contrary,” I said, “I know how a tube-light works, there are two input wires, kerosene flows in one, fire flows in the other!”
A sudden silence ensued. The guest went berserk, nit knowing whether to laugh or be serious.
“Who told you that?!” Mom snapped.
“Peddy master,” I said. He was my favorite teacher. He used to tell all these imaginary stories. I believed each one of them.
After this incident Mom started hunting for Peddy master. He was in her top priority list. She caught him one day in the market. “Are you the MAN,” (not are you the teacher) she hollered, “who told my son that tube lights work on kerosene?”
It took him some time to comprehend the whole situation. Sheepishly the old man said, “Ma’am, I told him a story in which a village boy thinks like that!”
“Well don’t teach him what the village boys think, teach him what Edison proved!”
Other moms
I was not allowed outside after dark. Sometimes when I was late, I was locked outside.
“Mom, open the door!”
“What time is it?” She would ask from the window.
“No it is 7:05!”
“I am sure; Sachin’s mom is allowing him to play all the time. He is making the news. He will one day play for the Indian team.”
“If he plays all the time; he won’t even clear SSLC; who would allow a SSLC failure in the national team?”
She was right about Sachin failing to clear SSLC, but terribly wrong about him not getting an entry in the national team. Later Sachin Tendulkar would become the most famous and most loved cricketer in the history of the game!
Friends forever
Now that I am married and mature, (both things are not linked!), when I recollect those old days, I simply laugh at them. All that possessiveness, rules and regulations from Mom, somehow worked for me——made me a regular guy.
When you become old and your parents older, they become your best friends. They are the best people to lean on. You are always sure their love is unconditional. They are no more possessive. They become confident; they defend you with the strangers.
Sometimes, I barge into the kitchen while Mom is cooking, and pick something from the dish (which I was not allowed to do when I was younger). I say, “This is simply the best food I ever tasted.”
“Is it tastier than your wife’s?” she would ask mockingly.
“Mom, are you jealous? You know I cannot answer that.”
“How is your sex life?”
“What the H——” I contain myself “How can you ask me that question?”
“I am your Mom I can ask you anything.”
“You are becoming senile,” I wander out of the kitchen.
There was a kind of survey and I was caught hold by a young man with a questionnaire. He asked me a lot of questions, my opinions on sex education, my sex preferences, life after death etc. etc.
“Who is the most important person in your life?” Before I could say anything he said, “You can do the Aamir-Khan-Trick?”
“What is it?” I asked him.
“In Dil-Chahata-hai, when asked the same question, he closes his eyes, eliminates everyone else, and finalizes Preity Zinta!”
“Oh, that’s a nice trick, though I don’t need it.” I cleared my voice and confidently said: “The most important person in my life is - my mother.”

Note: If you liked this memoir, you might like the others in the series as well. Click Here. 

Unlike my other articles, I wrote this one in just five days. It was initially titled, MOM; but changed at the last minute to, An affair to remember. Dad didn't like the new title, because he had seen the movie with the same name; he thought it is misleading. Later, one of my friends, whom I met after 22 years, suggested the current title. I guess when you meet a person after such a long time, you are obliged to grant their simple wishes.

It got good reviews though. You can read it on daiiji here.


17 July 2007

Life Cycle

There were mixed reviews for my previous article – Memoirs of an invisible man.

Some felt it was lengthy and rest felt bit complex. Few of them who regularly read my articles suggested to reduce the size, as a result I have decided to write articles with less than 2000 words. It is difficult to engage a reader for more than 2000 words.

This is my first article for http://www.daijiworld.com/, it got some good reviews.

Read on or if you want to read it on Daiji, click here.
- Ravi

“This Earth is His, to Him belong those vast and boundless skies;
Both seas within Him rest, and yet in that small pool He lies.”

Atharva Veda
Book 4, Hymn 16
From APJ Abdul Kalam’s - Wings Of Fire.

Life is beautiful.

There is a movie by that name, it is beautiful too. I am old enough now NOT to believe in traveling-into-the-past movies and Harry Potter. How I wish they were real!

If only I could rectify some of my mistakes by traveling into the past as in BUTTERFLY EFFECT! But alas, life is not fair and may be not that beautiful after all.

While there are no REWIND buttons, no funny gadgets which can take you into the past; we can only make our present and future more meaningful.

Kids – Age of innocence

Kids should ask – lot of questions; I used to ask lot of questions. It’s a different thing that I got all the wrong answers for my queries; that somewhat decided my destiny.

When ever I wondered about the lightning I was told that it is the result of angels playing cricket! When I enquired about the rain I was told that rain is the result of Gods crying.

Being a not-so-smart kid, I believed all this stuff; and became a laughing stock in front of my science teachers when I argued with my pseudo logic.

While I have found the answers to most of my questions of child hood painstakingly, some are still unanswered. For example as a kid I used to wonder why all the super hero’s wear their underwear outside, I am yet to find the answer!

There were also highly imaginary, impractical abstract stories. In one of the stories, all the animals create a stampede, result of falling sky. Everyone is under panic except for the old woman who pushes back the sky to its original position by her walking stick! Millions of stars, meteors, planets, satellites, galaxies, black holes - repositioned by a mere walking stick!!

Peddy master, my favorite teacher, told one story in which the lead character explains the functionality of the Tube light – is by kerosene flow in one wire and fire in another!

In another of his stories there is this guy named Ali Baba who can open a cave door just by saying “open sesame” – he could do that at a time when there were no voice sensors and remote controls!

There was also this stupid genie, which could do almost anything for his master but could not come out of the magic lamp by itself!

Flying mats – without the motor! Talking animals!!

In another story there was this guy by name Venku, who travels to a distance place by name Panamboor, apparently for no particular reason!

My child hood was filled with these kinds of highly imaginary non practical stories. This imagination restricted the growth of my reasoning part of the brain, made me a writer; not a scientist.

Take my example and be kind to your kids. Teach them logic, not fantasy.

When people die, they don’t become stars! This fact has been scientifically proved now- so don’t feed your kids with this jargon. There are no invisible magic strings for birds and aero-planes, but actual aero dynamic laws! Try Google, before taxing your grey cells - it works!

Finally, don’t force your kids to become doctors or engineers – if you are not one, they may not have the necessary genes in the first place!


This is a most difficult period. I know because, I was once a teenager and was so difficult to handle that my parents literally started doubting whether I am their own son!

Wild and difficult to handle; they are mostly like Saint Thomas - believe in only what they see.

They are revolutionary! They read revolutionary stuff like Kafka, Camus or Karl max! I have read all that, but when you are jobless and hungry Kafka can’t help you!

They wear such short dresses as if they have some kind of enmity towards the textile industry!

Never, I repeat NEVER explain the harms of alcohol to a teenager holding a glass of beer. The most they hate is dual standards. They can not understand how the parents can have the fun stuff, while they themselves are not allowed to do that! They can not understand why they can’t lie, smoke, drink, stay late - when parents can do these things all the time.

Often they do the things which you don’t want them to do. Their music is noise to you. Your music is sleep inducer for them. They prefer a hairdo only a porcupine would be proud to have.

Often you don’t know the answers to their questions, like – “what is objectivism?” Or you don’t want to answer like - “Dad, can I smoke?” Don’t make the mistake of saying NO to latter because that’s the first thing they will do once you are out of sight!

Instead say –“Yes! That way you will stay younger for ever!”

“How is that?” they will be curious.

Now it is your time, “By smoking continuously, you will die before 40! That way you will never be old!”

This is the kind of reasoning they will understand! There is a good point in the above argument. Now, they have a choice!

Handle your teenagers carefully, because the future is theirs! Who knows when your future is not that good, you may have to depend on them. Like the elephants, teenagers manage a long memory!

Not all men are dumb, some are bachelors! This is a unique category.
They drink lot of beer, spend lot of time out side and think lot about sex!

They are alien to – Madam Curie, Condoleezza Rice, Anne Frank, Sarojini Naidu, Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit, Joan of Arc, etc.

Instead they know everything about Malika Sherawat, Bipasha Basu, Britney spears, Angelina Julie and Shakira. When I say everything I mean EVERYTHING.

Rarely, some selected people get a call from God. Yes! That’s correct and God would say – “come and be my Shepherd”! Most of the guys can’t hear this call, because of the high volume of TV. In my case though, not being a great fan of TV, I heard this call very clearly! But I rejected this wonderful offer from God and subsequently married as rest of the normal guys.

Marriage is like the – second half of the movie after the interval; fun part is over and some serious stuff ahead.

A woman expects at least 3 things from possible candidates. First thing she ponders is - Can I domesticate this human monkey? And if so - If I ever get kids, with his association, can he support them? And finally and interestingly she wonders - How many qualities of this guy are common with my dad?

If you ask a male, what kind of a girl he wants to marry? He will start with - beautiful, slim, tall and just when you were expecting the list to end he will continue to – sexy, candid, frank, passionate, lovely, pretty, comely, exquisite, sublime, loyal, funny, mature, compassionate, elegant , pious, punctual, honest, - you will wonder how good his vocabulary is .

Every eligible bachelor thinks he is Shah-Ruk-Khan and wants to marry Kajol! In fact Shah-Rukh-Khan himself could not marry Kajol in real life, even though he married her at least thrice (DDLJ, KKKG, KKHH) on the screen!!

There is a point system in every marriage, where couples rate each other. Interestingly it works differently for men and women. The point system for women is scalar.

For e.g if you are a man and get flowers for your wife, she will give you 1 point. If you open the car door for her, she will give you 1 point again. If you cook (?) for her, you will get one more point. And if you get her a diamond chain, you will get not more than 1 point!

The system works differently and exponentially for men. If you are a women, and bring flowers to your husband he will give you MINUS ten (-10) points. If you cook for him and expect points he will give you zero (0) points, because he thinks that’s what you are meant to do. If you open the car door for him, he will get offended; he doesn’t like people pushing him.

But if you ever present him - "Multimedia, Wi-Fi, Virtual keyboard, GPS and Internet-enabled 2.75G quad-band GSM mobile iPhone by Apple" - he will give you 10000 points!!!

The trick is to know the difference in the point system and use it for your benefit. Following the above logic, A woman would love regular flowers, than occasional gold chains, it is also economical!

A fine balance?
Two Perfectly normal human beings become arch rivals, as soon as they assume the role of daughter-in-law and mother-in-law.

A mom is always mystified how her daughter-in-law can make her son dance to her tunes; where as she her self could not achieve this feat in so many years. (Obviously she underestimates the power of sex!)

a wife wants her husband to come out of his mom’s area of influence ASAP and be an independent.

I think our culture expects these things from them. This is kind of accepted norm. The Ekta Kapoor serials will definitely guide you, if you are missing something.

As a normal (intelligent?) man, one should maintain a fine balance between these two wonderful people, always. Your 100% biased support to any one of them can potentially ruin your life!

During my time
The moment you hear – “during my time”, you should be very careful; a philosophical sermon is on its way.

I am tired of the stories from the oldies going to Karkala feast by walk - 2 days earlier. I was frustrated by my grand father’s stories -how he used to walk 5 miles one way for school, and work in rice fields after school hours, just to give us a better future (Nothing can be more sentimental than this). How he used to get only 50 Paise from his dad for church festival etc.

I am tired of their saint-like life styles with no scandals; ultra whitened clean slate life.

These are the same guys who drooled for HELEN’s provocative, suggestive postures and consider her in the category of classical dancers!

Waiting for Godot
While we struggle to reach the top, we often forget that there is no TOP. There is no meaning to the TOP without its edges. We forget the scenery.

We think we would be happy and things would become better once we get a promotion, move to a better house, marry or once retirement benefits start. We wait for perfect times and utopian conditions; like Godot they don’t come. We miss the train to happiness.

Hope I had known more Latin; the only words I know in Latin are “Carpe Diem” which means seize the day! So here it is the final sentence, seize the day as if there is no tomorrow.

25 April 2007

Memoirs of an invisible man

Memory is a child walking along seashore. You never can tell what small pebble it will pick up and store away among its treasured things.
~Pierce Harris, Atlanta Journal


Somewhere in time, not long ago

“So your dream has come true?”
I asked Joyer. We had just finished wandering at Karavali Utsava and were having dinner at VILLAGE!

“What dream?” He asked. But I guess he realized what I am saying; I could see the smile at his face.

It’s a long story, or collection of anecdotes, spanning years and years and a generation. I know because I was there. Like TIME I have seen it all. I can still hear the voices from abyss. Like a ghost I remember everything and forget nothing - my memoirs are that of an Invisible man!

Once upon a time

Unfortunately (this is true), I no longer stay at Kinnigoli. Because of my work I can visit Kinnigoli only - once a year.

Every time I come down for a vacation, I expect some sort of drastic change; something entirely new; something which was not there before! But time and again, there is not much change, some small things here and there but Kinnigoli is always same, not much different.

Like the Ekta Kapoor serials – even if you see them, after a break of years – you are never far from where you have left. Same with Kinnigoli, year after year I see very less change.

This year though, there is a major change: my grand father is no more!

Of course life at Kinnigoli is not much affected by his departure, most of the Kinnigolians won’t remember my grand father, but I will always remember him distinctly at least for one reason.

My grand father had this unique habit of staring at nothingness! It was quite strange, if you don’t know him. While walking on the road, he would suddenly stop, look at the sky, stare at nothingness above and be a statue for at least 10 minutes or sometimes more. For a stranger he would look like a scientist, thinking about some strange formulae.

Subsequently he would come out of his stupor and continue his walk as if nothing had happened. I was always amazed by his trance! It would always be a mystery to me.

I have a feeling, my grand father must be like Galileo – who became famous only after hundred years of his death. Deep in my heart, I have a small hope that my grandfather would become famous one day! May not be now, may not be in near future, may not be in our life time but some day!

Finally a change
First day at Kinnigoli, a police man stopped my bike at the circle! I mean a real officer of the law!

I am from the era – if a police man comes to Kinnigoli that would be - big news! People would talk about it for months to come! Now there is a police man at the bus stand all the time!

“Mister!” he said “You can not enter the bust stand the way you want. You need to maintain LEFT side!”

Can you believe that? I mean - there was literally a time when you can enter the bus stand from which ever direction you want! There was no divider, no police to monitor you, plain faith on the fellow drivers.

The man from Dubai
After this police incident I had avoided bust stand for some time. I started traveling around the outskirts of Kinnigoli.

During one of these trips I entered a small hotel just to have Tea. This is a curse of software industry – many people consume tea regularly. Regular tea will give you a momentary small high and lot of problems in future!

I had a single tea; when tried to pay, I realized that the smallest currency note I had was of 500. I told the man on the counter that I am out of change.

“You should have checked for change before having SINGLE tea!” he said
I didn’t say anything.
“Are you from Dubai?” he asked.
“Not exactly, I was in Middle East”
“What is it with YOU Dubai-guys that makes you blind to notes below 500?”
Once again I didn’t say anything.
“You need to buy something else to get the change” he said.
I bought 2 packets of biscuits from the counter. Only after this I got the change.

Money plant
On my return journey to Kinnigoli – a “collection group” stopped me. They were building a stage and were expecting some donation.

I wonder what has happened to the stages built last year and the years before! I gave more donation than my regular quota and asked them to build a stronger stage this time - that last for years!

The moment I stopped my bike in front of Naveen’s shop, I met Cyril.
“Give me some money – I am hungry “he said; which is not true because he had said the same thing last year.

“Cyril I know you, you will DRINK from the money”
“No. I am really hungry”
“If you are really hungry I have 2 biscuit packets “ . These were the ones I got in exchange for change.

“I don’t need them”
I didn’t give him anything. But then he followed me everywhere I went. Finally gave him some money – before people start connecting me with him.

God’s House
On Christmas Eve, I went to the mass on time; which is uncharacteristic. There was a gigantic man made Christmas star in front of the church, much bigger than the ones you see in the sky!

For a long time I was under the impression that the name of our church is – immaculate CONSUMPTION! That is because I didn’t know the meaning of neither immaculate nor consumption. Now that I know what is IMMACULATE and what CONCEPTION is, I have my own doubts about IMMACULATE CONCEPTION!

Church was full; I didn’t get a seat, so I went to the balcony. I could see everyone from top – believers, non-believers, good men, nuns, kids, altar boys and gossip lovers.

I was specially looking for the guys who post crap things on Kinnigoli.com with alias names! God, give me some hint – I prayed. I just wanted to see these morons.

There was a skit just before the mass. Armaan, Joyer’s son was playing Jesus, may be the most coveted role in the world. At less than a year, he may be one of the youngest to play that role, which even Jim Caviezel found difficult to act. In Armaan’s case though he didn’t have to do much, he just needed to be himself!

From the top I saw my father. He was alarmingly close to the altar! If the priest threw something from altar he would be the first person to catch it! My dad was an atheist long time back. Now he is a super theist! I don’t know the reason for this paradigm shift! He goes to daily mass now. He sits on the front row. The only person who had this kind of dramatic change is Paul-AKA-Saul who got enlightened on the way to Damascus! There are rumors that he (not Paul But my dad) is the main force behind the daily evening mass; which has started recently in Kinnigoli.

Also saw my mom; she was at a practical distance from altar. I always have a feeling that she is trapped between an agnostic son (that is me) and super theist husband (that would be my dad)!

Dead man walking
Our vicar had announced to meet and greet at least 5 new people after the Christmas mass. It is very difficult to meet 5 new people, especially in a small place like Kinnigoli where everyone knows everyone.

And if you are a famous person like Joseph Quadras or Henry Mathias you can never find a new person at all.

I could not find 5 new people instead I met a person whom I had thought dead long back! This person came to me and said “You are Ravi Lobo and your birthday is on March 4th!” Can you believe that?

Luckily I was not alone, else I would have fainted.

Unfortunately I cannot reveal the identity of the person because he/she may not like people considering himself/herself among the dead!

Mysore palace
During Christmas, lots of Bombay kids come down for vacation; they somehow consider themselves superior among Kinnigoli kids, just because they were born and brought up in Mumbai.

These kids have lot of bookish knowledge, which is hardly practical!

“Why there are no coconuts in this tree?” One of these kids asked me at our farm.
“There may be other valid reasons” I said “but the chief among others, I believe is because it is not a coconut tree, it is a betel nut tree!”

Did you get my point! These kids are not dumb, they are simply bookish. For example they know the scientific name for betel nut tree is – “Areca Catechu” and that for coconut tree is – “cocos nucifera”. They also know that both trees belong to scientific classification Division: Magnoliophyta and Class: Liliopsida!

But if you simply drag them to the farm and ask them which is which, they will go amok!

My grand father never knew about Areca Catechu or cocos nucifera! But he had a very good practical knowledge of palm trees; we were never short of coconuts!

In a similar incident, I was traveling via maravoor at night and this kid suddenly started shouting “ Look – Mysore Palace!”

“Mysore palace is in Mysore stupid!” I corrected him “This is MRPL!”

“Guess what? “ I said “Mysore palace is lighted only for 10 days a year but MRPL is lighted whole year – year after year!”

New generation

“Free Food! Free Accommodation! Scroll down for Republic day offer” – I received a SMS. I promptly scrolled down and here is what was written,

“Send SMS to police informing about a BOMB at the parliament. You will be put in jail! Food free! Accommodation free! Ha Ha Ha “

I wonder which moron with the IQ of an amoeba generated this SMS. Is the Indian intelligence agency so much short of work that they have started checking brainless SMS messages?

I am sad (I am using a mild word here) about our unpatriotic youth!

The Snake
Some people fear mice, some cockroaches, some heights, some lifts and some crowds. This is really funny; I don’t know what is there with the cockroaches to fear!

Of all the things, I have OPHIDIOPHOBIA; the fear for snakes – yeeeeeeeeeeks! I always didn’t like snakes, but the magnitude of fear I realized only after seeing a real one in my bedroom!

I was in the bedroom, searching for something I don’t remember now and there it was in front of me a real, live, snake! I don’t know how it landed up there; our windows are at a considerable height.

I didn’t sleep in the bedroom for two days. I will never be comfortable in my own bedroom! This is creepy and unfair especially when you are married!

One more thing I won’t be able to do is a - proper shower! I was once watching Alfred Hitchcock’s – PSYCHO all alone. It was around midnight – I mistook the movie for a romantic one. Till half of the movie – there is nothing – it looks like a plain romantic movie.

Some where in the middle; the lead actress goes for a shower at a motel. Our lead actress is singing and taking bath – I am very alert expecting something interesting – and suddenly a hand with a knife comes from nowhere and stabs the actress more than 10 times!

There is blood all around. I was so stunned, shattered by this sudden killing. This is not only a classic example of expectation mismatch, also one of the scariest scenes I have ever seen!

After this, I have never taken a comfortable shower - never! Now this stupid snake!

“Snakes don’t stay at houses NORMALLY, they stumble by mistake but they don’t stay for long “ - my mom said!

“In an ABNORMAL case, they may consider staying!” I told her.

“In fact a snake is more afraid of you, than you being afraid of it!” she said

“There are humans not afraid of snakes, there can always be a snake who is not afraid of humans! “ I replied.

No matter what – she could not convince me!

Finally we have fixed mosquito nets to all the windows of our house! I am sort of okay now, but I will never be able sleep in my bedroom peacefully anymore; this stupid snake will haunt me for ages to come!

Magnya zamath
The literal meaning of MAGNYA ZAMATH is PRAYER MEETING. But in reality it is hardly anything to do with prayer! It may be the most misunderstood word.

To understand it, you need to travel in to the past! Till you reach the time of Socrates. Socrates was a Greek philosopher with a very intelligent group of disciples, like Plato.

Everyday evening he used sit at the market place with his disciples and talk philosophy. People didn’t like this. Socrates was never famous during his time; in fact he was forced to drink poison!

Never the less, 2000 years later, now we consider Socrates among the pioneer philosophers!

Modern days – I and friends sit in bars, for the same kind of intellectual exchange, which Socrates used to have 2000 years ago. Like Socratian times, contemporary people don’t like us.

In fact the alcohol consumption is very less during these meetings; it would have been zero if MAPU not being in the team. I have caught so many times around Kinnigoli bars – that I have stopped convincing people that I am a teetotaler!

I have seen some of the major decisions and history in the making during some of these meetings! The discussions are always visionary, futuristic and intellectual. The topics discussed range from chaos-theory to butterfly-effect. I received lot of general knowledge, in these meetings.

Like bourgeois Athenians - My parents didn’t like these meetings; Even though the information inputs were magnanimous. For that matter no Kinnigolian parent would like their child to spend their evenings at bars; even if it is to have a cup of mineral water!

When the resentment at our homes increased, we friends decided to have a code word for our meetings. The code word was – MAGNYA ZAMATH.

Typically Joyer would call and some times my mom would pick up the phone. “There is a MAGNYA ZAMATH today evening “he would say “ Please ask Ravi to attend it without fail!”

This went very well for some time. Joy would call, mom would pickup the call. She would think I am in a MAGNYA ZAMATH! But in reality I would be in a bar with friends. The bars really prospered during those days.

My mom was not surprised with this sudden change in her son because she had seen similar change in her husband!

Of course good days don’t last long. Mom eventually found out about MAGNYA ZAMATH and as a punishment I was forced to attend few real MAGNYA ZAMATHS.

When Vally came on vacation he was center of attention at least at our house!
“Look at Vally” my mom would say “ He is NOT like you guys! He is so pious and religious; He goes straight to the church and comes back straight home. He won’t look here and there. Not like you guys - wandering cattle”

Vally is this, Vally is that, bla bla bla ……bla bla bla
Suddenly Vally was larger than life – a superhero!

This was too much. A change was required. Finally we friends convinced Vally for a Magnya Zamath!!

“Where are you going at this time of the evening?” Mom asked.
“I don’t want to go any where” I said “But your blue eyed boy – Vally has called me for a party!”

“Don’t spoil his name! He is a good guy!” mom said with unbelievable tone.

“Call him now and find out for yourself!”

We had a great party with Vally. It was really wonderful. Since he is in Middle East – there were discussions about camel meat and belly dance. Vally had tried both!!

Vally’s nephew comes to our house daily morning to collect the milk. The day after the party my mom asked him – “Where was Vally yesterday Night?”

“He was at a party with his friends; He came back very late. Why, anything wrong? “He asked.

“There was some confusion about Vally” I said from behind “I think it is cleared now, isn’t it mom?”

AIDS test
One time when I was in Mangalore, I saw a yellow van with AIDS awareness information.
“Sir, do you need an AIDS test?” One of the volunteers asked me.
“I don’t need it. I don’t have it.” I said.

“Sir you are never sure about AIDS” the volunteer persisted.
“I may not be sure about AIDS” I replied “but I am very much sure about my sex life!”

Old friends
I met an Old friend, surprised him and he was like ‘YOU…!’ as if he was surprised to see me alive.
I knew, he was unable to recollect my name.
“Tell me my name” I asked him.
“You think I don’t know your name!” that was smart.
“That’s what I think! Tell me anyway!” I knew he was still thinking.
“You are the craziest person I have ever seen” he said.
“That may be true! Tell me my name!” insisted him.
“You used to crack the stupidest jokes!”
“I agree, now tell me my name” forced him.
“Because of Joy, you used to win quiz competitions and take all the credit!”
“That is not true! Just tell me my name”
“You were always compared to Patrao, even though you were no where near to him!”
“That’s a lie. Who am I?”
“In chess, because of Jerome you won many tournaments”
“I don’t want to talk to you”. Made a mistake, shouldn’t have asked this idiot.
“You were always second best! Sort of second hand”
“I am not listening”
“Now since you want to know who you are. My dear friend you are the one and only Ravi the f@#$ing Lobo” this was like an academy award announcement, and the Oscar goes to…..
“That is not my exact name” I said “But you are very close!”

Old friends are like that. They pull your leg all the time. But they are also the first ones to reach out in need. They are happy to be with you, not because of your fame or money but just because what you are.

Dochha’s marriage
Dochha aka Lawrance is an old friend. I can write a lengthy article on his marriage. Two amusing incidents happened during the marriage.

One lady - whom I didn’t know and I am sure she didn’t know me either mischievously, suggested “next is yours!”
“Next is mine - what?” I asked her.
“Marriage , you-stupid!”
“I am already married” I said.
“Oh, I am sorry I mistook you for someone else. Now I know who you are. So where are the kids?”
“I don’t have kids, you are wrong again!”

During lunch, there was a shortage of waiters and some how I went with food to serve dochha. On the way J B Miranda – my Hindi teacher saw me!

“So this is what…………..” and he stopped. I know what he wanted to say - “So this is what you have become after all my efforts!”

“Sir I am not a waiter. I am just serving my friend.” Cleared his doubt; later introduced Reema to him. Interestingly we both were his students. Thanks to this great man my Hindi is much better for a south Indian.

Buffalo race
Even though most of my adult life I have spent in Kinnigoli I was an alien to Kinnigoli night life. That was because during my younger days I had strict orders to be at home by 7.00 PM. You will find it difficult to believe that I had never seen a Yakshagana till I was 30. That was because Yakshagana starts at around midnight, and as a rule I was supposed to be back at home by 7.00 PM. For almost 30 years I missed this magnanimous cultural event. It was like a house arrest for 30 years.

But the time has changed; I can come home anytime now or need not come at all if I wish that! I am like spider-man, wanderer – anytime, anywhere! But much like spider-man – with great power comes great responsibility!

[Deep in my heart I believe that parents should be little bit strict. At least one of my parents was strict (you know whom I am referring to!); because of that I am, what I am today. Even with this enlightening piece of knowledge, I won’t be a lenient parent. I am going to harass my kids to the core. I will bring down the 7.00 PM bar to 6.00 PM!
I will expect extreme greatness from them, even though my achievements are mediocre! I will do all the nonsense and illogical things to them which my parents didn’t do to me!]

In my Last visit I saw Yakshagana, I also saw KAMBLA the buffalo race first time in my life. It starts at night, I went with Naveen. He is a no nonsense guy with contacts. He is like a Mafioso in the small town, people know him, they admire his power and keep their distance.

The buffalo race was awesome. This animal, human combination was simply superb.
No Jesse owens, no Asafa powell will ever dare to race in this, in their wildest dreams.

We saw a few races, roamed around a bit before returning. There were biggest water melon piles, tea stalls, omelet vendors and sweets with no names.

After effects of Magnya zamath

Magnya Zamaths were good as long as we were bachelors. Once married, the wives suffered with constant absence of their husbands.

One time, when I went to Joy’s house to invite him for a outing, I met his wife – Icy,
“I am taking your husband for couple of hours, and promise to return him safely” told her jokingly.

“Take him for the whole day” she said “and don’t return him!”

This is a counter joke; I doubt it was 100% pure joke!

Over the period I and friends have realized that if we want to maintain our friend ship then we need to involve the families.

“It’s a dream” Joy had said “to have a get-together with all the old friends, their wives and kids “

I feel you need to be careful when you are dreaming, because believe me sometimes even dreams come true!

The spirit of Kinnigoli
Whenever I am with Naveen we go for a tea either at SWAGATH or DURGA DAYA. Some times he is busy, so I go alone. During one of these times, I realized for my horror that I am once again short of change.

I went to the counter at SWAGATH and politely told the guy on the counter that I am out of change. “May be I should have checked before having a single tea. “ I said “I really don’t mind buying something else in exchange for change”

“No need” he said “You can give me the change next time”
“Just like that?” I asked.
“Just like that!” he said.

That’s why I love Kinnigoli the most. People are basically good here and they believe in you. The heat of modernization has not affected Kinnigoli yet. On the contrary Mangalore has not only become cosmopolitan but also communal. The natural greenery has been replaced by communal colors.

Freedom fighters, who fought for freedom of the nation oblivion to cast and creed are dragged into religious posters. I will think twice before roaming at night at Mangalore.

So far Kinnigoli is peaceful. It is full of good guys, non-Christian business men who speak Konkani fluently than their mother tongue, bus drivers giving priority to our PURSHANV, auto drivers refusing to take fare from our priests. I have seen it all.

In other parts there is lot of religious confusion. Killings, on the name of religion. These things are yet to be seen in Kinnigoli. You can kill a person, but not an idea, or thought. How can you kill the spirit of a place?

Memoirs of an invisible man
Time is the best medicine. The cool guys and hot babes of our time are no more cool or hot! Mata Hari’s of our time are no more in vogue. In their place some new faces have popped up. They are after the temporary glitter and an ominous fate of their kin of yester years.

Macho men of my time are no more macho! They do menial jobs to meet their day to day needs. The Gandhi-types, who used to sit on the front benches, with specs and neatly-oil-combed hair, about whom I used to laugh, are in form; these are the guys who rule.

Like TIME, I have seen the history in the making. I have made my mistakes and learned my lesson.

I remember the days of ASHOKA talkies and bella candy during the interval. There was a soda making factory behind the market; lemon bottled soda with blue marble to keep the fizz.

There was a small tree in Saint Mary’s ground; we used to play MARA-KOTI. Wednesday’s there used to be CHITRAHAAR and one movie on Sundays. There was no remote; no channel surfing.

“Washing powder nirma” was a constant ad. There was a liril ad; lady swimming under a waterfall, considered hot. For a long time I was under the impression that GIVE ME RED was a soft drink ad.

There were quiz and chess competitions and Cricket tournaments! A big crowd used to go for quiz competitions; loud cheers for every correct answer.

Incredible chess end games, nail biting cricket victories, trekking, idealism of youth rumors, scandals, romance and a wild spirit. I can see them, hear them, and smell them as if they were incidents of yesterday. So many memories; some more time and they all will be lost in sands of time.

“Hey Ravi, what are you thinking? “ That was Reema
“Nothing” I said.
“Surely you are thinking something important, I saw you standing unmoved for almost ten minutes”

Finally I have understood my grandfather.

A million dollar dream
At last we could manage a family outing. Most of my friends were there with their family and kids. Joy, Naveen, Francis, saver, MAPU, Rudy, Lawrence and Premu; It was a good outing. We had a good time.

Armaan was there, sleeping most of the time. NOLAN, Naveen’s kid was there. He has just started talking and talks beautifully for his age. These kids have a long future ahead. They will be friends like their fathers. I hope life would be fare to them, as it was for us.

“So your dream has come true?”
I asked Joyer. We had just finished wandering in Karavali Utsava and were having dinner at VILLAGE!

“What dream?” He asked. But I guess he realized what I am saying; I could see the smile at his face.

In the corner I could see our wives talking and giggling. Reema waved at me. I waved back. They were laughing, may be sharing a joke, I could not hear them, they seem to be happy. At the end of the day what else a man need than a happy family?