Saturday, December 27, 2008

Terrible PJ

(Please do not read further this unless you can take awful pun that could ruin your day OR unless you have been following the connection between Pradeep Rawat and Aamir Khan over last decade! I could dare publish it because only three people ever care to read my blog.)

Just came back watching Ghajini. As Aamir was beating the shit out of Pradeep Rawat, one thought came to mind. In the original Ghajini (Tamil) Pradeep had a twin brother. Rawat also played the role of Aswathama in B.R.Chopra's Mahabharat. So - HUGE SPOILER ALERT -after Aamir Khan kills him, does Ziah Khan whisper to his effervescent memory - "Aswathama hata(h) (iti Ghajini)"?

Friday, October 24, 2008

Lost Worlds - What have We Lost & Where Did it Go? - Part 1

(Idea shamelessly copied from this paperback - definitely worth a read. A lot of the following references would not be obvious -- just like fragments from another scattered life.)

Here is my list -

  1. VCR Rental Nights. VHS (not) rewind fine.

  2. Morning newspaper delivery - the "thud" on the balcony.

  3. Nylon back "Easy Chair"

  4. Borolene. Not the cream - but the the most wonderful program to ever air -- "Borolene-er Sonsar".

  5. TV Box - so the TV screen can be "locked". Close second - phone padlocks.

  6. "Niruddes Sonkranto Ghoshona" (Announcement on Missing Persons) before 7:30PM Bengali news - Me and my brother used to play guessing game on the age. One had to guess the correct age in the 3 seconds between the appearance of the photo and the utterance of the details. Later, I even started "Guess the name" contest. One had to be really fast to even aim that.

  7. Bryan Adams in a Pizza Shop / Scoop - welcome adulthood!

  8. Anil Grover column in "The Telegraph" magazine.

  9. Leaving "Adarsha Hindu Hotel" unfinished on one evening as the rest of the hostelites came back from their stupid football game.

  10. Watching "Rani Rasmoni" on open air screen with 350 other boys who just stepped into teens.

  11. Anandamela Pujabarshiki before 1992. Especially, Shailen Ghosh's first five years and Sanjeev Chattopadhyay's middle two!

  12. First road trip in US. Yes, it was Niagara and we stopped at McDonald's at 3AM!

  13. Used magazine purchase from train "hawkers" before the train picked up full speed.

  14. Comparing notes about "phone card charges" with fellow first-timers in US.

  15. Dulal Chandra Bhar's Taal MichDi ads on right newspaper ear. The distinction between it and Dulal Bhar's was as ethereal as that between "Kuwari Dulhan" and "Kunwari Dulhan" (worth a full separate post!).

  16. Reading Panjika on a lazy summer vacation afternoon.

  17. Reading "Bharoter Sadhok" (Sages of India) on another lazy summer vacation afternoon as there was literally nothing else to read.

  18. First sexual "awakening" as Heike Dreschler long jumped for the gold in World Championships 1987. This was the exact photograph, BTW, printed on one amazingly used page of Anandabazar Patrika. I saw this photo of her's first time today, however.

  19. First drink at New Cathey Restaurant. It was Gin and Lime.

  20. Sarodiyo Khela. Especially the best ever sports series called "Utko Sangbadiker Diary"

  21. Sportstar Posters! Need I say more?

  22. ATN. Where did it go? Why did it go? Could someone one day do a comparative analysis between ATN and CVO at their peaks?

  23. Park Street Cemetery - St Xavier's would never be the same without the very dead Sahibs relaxing so close by. Smoking anywhere else would never be the same again.

  24. "Rubber Deuce" ball. Any bozo and his uncle can play first-class cricket. Surviving 7 balls or more with those red tiny things that changed its shape, contour, speed and even horizontal path within a whole 18 yards separated men from sissies. BTW, has anyone else ever felt that someone always seems to carry rubber deuce ball very until it hits the bat? Otherwise, why the hell it NEVER really attains a circular shape on its trajectory!

  25. Reading comics at relatives house. Why does comics feel so much better when someone else buys it and when there is a tight time line you have to finish it within?!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Six Unspectacular Quirks

This is the first time someone has "tagged" me. I feel the same excitement I felt when my parents had bought me a cool "Omega" pencil box replacing the bland "Camel" one.

Here goes the list -

1. I can burp the words - "I love you". Seriously, ask my wife. However, I only resort to perform the trick when my wife complains I am not "romantic enough".

2. I am somewhat scared to fly. The fact that I was scheduled to be in airspace on 09/11/2001 does not help. So much so that even though my job requires a wee bit of travel, I always drive. This is not a quirk though. The mentionable fact is I am highly fond of plane crash movies. I have watched all of them. Yes, "Final Destination 1" plane crash is the best of 'em all. Bordering obsession, I have extensively researched all major air crashes and even read the FAA reports and deep engineering analysis of most of it!

3. I have watched each and every one of Shilpa Shirodkar's movies. "Bhrastachar" was the best; "Raghuveer" - I watched twice as I was in Ghatshila for a month and nothing else was running.

4. I wear a watch where I can measure heartbeats per second. During numerous meetings, I measure the pulse. If it goes above 90, I try my best to not speak.

While buying that watch, I got tax break from US Government. That's the most productive career tool I ever owned.

5. Much earlier, after all the beers I drank in a session, I could write my full name - including surname - on the urinal wall. These days, I could only do my "daak naam" (pet name) that has about five letters.

6. I very strongly believe that intelligence is over-hyped. Stemming from a faux-confidence intelligent people make the worst kind of mistake. Leaders and top Managers should have a little less brainpower than their followers. That would at least make it possible for them to consult smarter people. We have seen the best educated people putting us in the present economic mess we are in. Now we should put common folks at the helm and see why exactly top formal education is worthless. My friends, that's why, I have contributed to John McCain's campaign.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Someone I never (really) disagreed with

Our sweetest moments always coincide with unexpected success. Kapil's Devils' 83; myself scoring a 25/25 in "Gaan" class with Prabhatda -who looked like Hemanta - in Narendrapur; myself - again - cracking the JEE in 1993 and so on. As I, Prantik, Partha and BeNte (Aniruddha) met a couple of days after JEE results were out, celebrating the much expected demise of our Math coaching class on Saturday evening in Golpark -- Prantik bore his trade-smirk and warned me in his very "I know you will be disappointed if you cut this tomato for Omelette" tone that one of his schoolmates would probably be in my Engineering class considering our pretty close ranks. I was 315, the weird named unknown folk talked about was 310. While expecting Partha's mother would bring another round of Bourbon biscuits to dip into very sweet and lukewarm evening tea, I mumbled a feeble "so?". I was already being told about "characters" I would meet in Jadavpur University by rank and file, somehow letting me fantasize of the chaotic life ahead where I could somehow redefine anarchy with the help of so and so.

Jumpcut. July, 1997. The orientation was just over. It rained. As I was about to pay the princely sum of about Rs. 181.50 for the "registration" in Mechanical Engineering, I realized I just had a few hundreds. Always a believer of conspiracy theory and still not coming to terms with me being there, I was scared that I may lose the seat if the clerk does not have a change. Some other Electrical Engineering dude may come ahead with the change and swap. As hard as getting a change was, I broke into cold sweat thinking what would happen if I could not get it in 10 minutes or so. I may have to decide for Printing Technology in REC, Suratkal.

This spectacled and aloof guy was standing nearby with his father. I hid my desperation and asked if they have change. I even took out my most creasefree bill to try lure them. His father, without speaking much and definitely not looking at my bait, took out his wallet, handed me change for a 100 and took the shiny bill from me. We chatted for a moment or two. I shook hands, thanked them profusely and was convinced that Prantik never really understands people the way I do.

Jumpcut. Zoom to first semester. Our roll numbers were adjacent. We both were trying our best to be as blue collar as we can fake to be. We were together in things that are top in every 18 year old's mind - wood working, metal fitting workshop, foundry, forging etc. Worse - him and I were grouped together. I do not know about him, but I started fantasizing I am Robinson Crusoe as I had to take the (literally) hot iron and put it inside a mud-hole. He was not of much help. In the very few classes that required a pen, I saw him - often - doing crosswords. In the ones that required a book, he was omnipresent with "First Among Equals". We started talking more. As I recall September, 1993 was the epiphany. As I proudly walked in with the latest Stardust issue - was very hard to get if you remember what was on the cover BTW - he lost no time in grabbing it. I saw a faint glimmer of appreciation, heartfelt, in his eyes. I liked him. I was about to mention about her sister, the one who was on cover - trying to aim at a juicy conversation. He gave me a sterner look and just mumbled the words "Mithila?". At that point, if Prantik - despite his very unpopular SFI "background - asked for my vote, I would have given it. He was right. Damn right.

Months passed by. Years too. When a senior professor suddenly died and classes were called off, a big group went to watch "Four Weddings and a Funeral". Mainly pushed by him, some of us watched a few Spielberg movies in New Empire. Films were his passion - even my type of films. We spent hours talking about "Tehelka", even about "Vansh" that we both agreed was a masterpiece. I was so proud that someone who reads about Satyajit Ray in English would also read his "Ebaro Baro". The same person who would push for "Citizen Kane" in our newly formed "Film Club" would not mind when I tell him how much I enjoyed "Tilak" the other night. In fact, I too enjoyed the screening of "Rashomon". I really liked it. I still remember the day Dipta paid for the Pepsi and did not ask me back for Rs 8. I remember it so well because it happened just twice. I envied his vast collection of books - even some Bengali ones. However, I do think no one could beat me there. On one summer I was so out of bengali reading material, I finished thirteen volumes of "Bharater Sadhok" (The Saints of India). He did never smoke, most of rest of us did. He almost rarely drank, most of rest of us reveled in that. He was the Vinod Khanna of quizzing circuit. People did not know he was the best because he did not want them to. His academics did not improve much, mine deteriorated a lot. But I took great pleasure when, once, he asked me something about "Fluid Mechanics". I felt so proud someone asked me something "technical", I tried re-branding myself as a "Fluid Expert" and starting to break ongoing conversations about how I think it will be really tough to crack "Fluid 2". He was never much into dramatics and when we went together for the Viva, he was extremely conservative and not very forthcoming. Since he was not, and he was very sincere, he could speak three entirely disjointed and irrelevant sentences together as answer and still would somehow give a 7/10 performance. My theatrics could either earn me an "Alpha Double Plus" (rare, actually just once) or a plain "You disappoint me. Your father tries to stop crime, and you do crime" (frequent). Sadly, that blurb reminded him of Shakti, I could tell it from his eyes he was watching me run through a runway.

As we broke into our final year, something I was not much expecting to, I decided that I was cut made for MBA. He was scoring the prep tests like Greame Smith scored in counties. It was unbelievable. I tried to focus on the "strategic preparation" part and tried to chip in with theories like - in CAT, they may print a 4 page long "Reading Comprehension" passage. As you go through it reading fast and finish it, you may see there is no question asked on it. My proudest moment in JU came in form of only two of us making the final round of HCL (Marketing) interview. I mostly copied from his analyticals for the elimination round however. As he came back from TELCO interview somewhat glum, we watched "Showgirls" without speaking much. He also could not stop talking about the book he read on the way back in train.

We spoke everyday morning over phone *before* we got to college. Usually, I will tune down "Chitralok" (a program another of our friend loves) and talk about the things that we would talk later in the day and on. These days, one of the first things I do is check his blog in the morning. I do not really miss our conversation all that much. He mostly keeps writing about it, even after so many years.

Keep writing, my friend.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The Parent Trap

Behold. I now know why India is not a proportionate sporting nation. It is not lack of infrastructure, it is not over-abundance of Cricket, neither it is our very average physical traits. The reason we suck - sports for us is a warm-fuzzy-cuddly-forcefully emotive thing like a Sukhen Das movie. Sports for us is not a cold Gladiator fighting for his life in Arena. Sports for us is all about our parents - players', spectators' and even commentators'. And then, if lucky, the obligatory congratulatory call from usually ailing President of India.

As much truly delighted as I am after Abhinav Bindra's success, it was genuinely funny to see NDTV qoute his parents - within half-an-hour of him winning - "it was not easy at all". Anandabazar Patrika had a quarter-page article titled "Maa Perechi" (Mom, I did it). Apparently, Bindra called from Beijing and uttered just those two words or five, depending on whether he was speaking Bengali or Jaath dialect. Just that, and not complaining or being asked about the heat, humidity, food issues or even a request to buy some quality China-made umbrellas for home. According to Sapan Sarkar, who apparently reported this from Chandigarh, the Bindras are throwing such a great party that "nimeshe uDe jachhe kg kg laddu-r baxo". That is one thing, I hope, Jr Bindra is not allowed to have. Magically enough, Anandabazar not only knew details of last three phone calls between Bindra and his folks, it somehow published the content in a unique Bong-Hindi transcript.

I do not know who to trust. According to rediff, a tearful Babli Bindra had actually sent a SMS to her son.

Newschannels were too busy to offer a slot to interview of the obligatory "childhood coach". I remembered Deshpran Azad and hoped I would not have to listen to another pathetic story about Bindra's tremendous lactose tolerance level. Even Bindra's sister, last I checked, was too busy teaching everyone the difference between "trap" and "10m air rifle".

Dhoni's brother-in-law, Goni's (step?) mom, Sourav's wife (wifely hinted how Dada could still accept captaincy, only selectors ignored it) - we have managed to make serious sports an evening episode of "Humlog". As I was reading, also in Anandabazar, how Milkha Singh thinks Bindra "merely picked up the Gold that had fallen from his hand" - I was reminded of avuncular Dadamoni coming after the episode and making sure we are fine. Except, Milkha's was more like Johny Lever mimicking Dadamoni from behind a cardboard cut TV shaped box in Jalwa.

To do an objective comparison, I did some research on how Michael Phelps' parents would be feeling. I found the two divorced in 1994, perhaps saving at least one of them cost of "kgs and kgs of Laddu".

Some other tertiary observations -

(1) I genuinely like Abhinav Bindra. The fact that he did not cry. The fact that he very calmly explained how a combination of many momentary factors could swing one's rank from 1 to 20 in a fraction of second in 10-m air rifle. Make no mistake, he is my hero.

(2) Big B, Amir already "hailed" Bindra's feat. Who will Shahrukh choose? Rathore already crashed out of the competition.

(3) Even though I am a huge fan of tabloid journalism, I was not highly amused at the following suggestive photo followed by an equally suggestive Anandabazar title. "Map paalte dichhe Abhinabo Khela". That bong phrase loosely translates to "International Khiladi No 1". She is his coach for God's sake!

I was smirking. Indian media is one sensationalizer.

But then I checked out CNN.

"Bush hugs bikini-clad US Olympians"

Monday, February 18, 2008

Ten Things I learnt from Jodhaa-Akbar

(1) "Arranged" marriages eventually work out to be just fine. It just takes an awful long time to consummate, however.

(2) If your name is Hemu, you should at least always sport plastic sunglasses.

(3) If your name is Hemu, and you have over 100 (literally) decorated elephants, and you are fighting for your life- you send 99 of them to another direction. Then you head along to the thick segment of the opponent army alone.

(4) Surendra Paul is alive!!! He still does noncommittally bombastic characters like Dronacharya.

(5) If you have an orphaned nephew with attitude, think twice before helping him.

(6) A Hindu wife does not utter her husband's name, unless she is married to a Muslim.

(7) Poonam Sinha is a huge vacuum with a smile, the shape and form of which do not change irrespective of whether her on-screen son was just hit by a poisonous arrow or her daughter-in-law steps into her home the very first time.

(8) Even though the newly wed Princess was given what surely would have been the largest suite one could have seen, every single word of her prayer could still be heard by just about everyone in the (technically) far-off royal court for commons (Diwan-e-Aam). Perhaps another reason the marriage was not consummated sooner.

(9) If you had a fight with your wife, and she heads for her parents', and once you are there she clearly does not want to see your body hair --- the first thing you should do in the morning after waking up is to invite her to a sword fight.

(10) This is the first-time after "Joshilaay" Rajesh Vivek rode a horse.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Ten Years I am Living Next Door - Part 5

The Sins

"You are never drunk enough till you stop realizing that what is coming out of your bladder is not only drowning thousands of little annoying black ants around Olypub urinals, but could make a few of them intoxicated too."

-Late 80's Calcutta Proverb

My grandmother, the best ever omelette maker in the universe, passed away at a time Shakti Samata, the then Censor board chairman was busy reviewing various Karishma Kapoor gyrations and we were being introduced to Gyroscopes - the Guttenberg Bible for Mechanical Engineers - at college. It was Summer, 1994. Even the last Kiran More-from-behind-the-wicket-shout "RaaaajoooooooooWwww" was heard more than four months ago. Life was like an 'Only Vimal' shirt sticking to the itchy skin within a crowded mini-bus - one could just feel it without too much optimism or joy. Narsimha Rao's speeches in parliament were shorter than Dilip Kumar's grunts in "Yehudi" and were less appealing than a waxed trio of Chunkey Pandey-Naseeruddin Shah-Aditya Pancholi cavorting as teenage chicks in "Tehelka". Even "Fantasy" magazine - the one that promised to ram hard into "Debonair" heights and whose old copies typically sold for more than the printed price because an entire generation was trying to figure out how a nubile Delhi 'lawyer' could look without, say, her robes -was losing its sheen. So I accompanied my family to a road trip to my grandmom's place for her funeral. I had to come back soon, though. I had an all important class test on Maths 2J. My parents and brother stayed back for about a week more.


Back to Calcutta, my first action was to rush to JU. Between the time I set foot and another samosa was sold from Nathuda's canteen, everyone around knew I was "home alone". More importantly, my parents left me with a good sum of money to last a week. Details escape me today, but the next day -- May 10, 1994 - was declared a "Chao" (from chaos) day at my place. Rumors have it that cyclostyled handbills were distributed at two of the three university gates telling people about the occasion. It was unanimously decided that booze will be purchased the very same day - 2 big bottles (known as "750" for their volume) of every type of spirits - and brands thereof - containing more than 42% alcohol.

However, it was also discovered that my mother had locked the VCR inside before leaving. Having a functional VCR on such a home alone day is as essential as watching sunrise from Tiger Hill on your first Darjeeling visit, and I was almost lynched by a rough crowd as I breached the unavailability of a cubical aluminum box that can rotate tapes that are as wide as Silk Smita's love handles. As someone had said, if life was a VCR, Dimple Kapadia would have had only one frame at it - the one where Juhu breeze would prove to be a too worthy competitor to a "Bombay Dying" towel.

There comes a character in every generation that - like Ghonada -goes unsung, but changes the lives and times of everyone around him. He was the one Wright brothers looked to when the plane was ready but perhaps a permit was needed to not keep both feet on the ground. He would be the one who -- seeing Hrithik has six fingers -- ask him not to ever accelerate too fast on a motorcycle. He could be the one who wrote a letter to Archimedes that had the word 'Eureka' seven times in it before the bald guy found he could float on a bathtub. So, I turned to Sudhha to resolve VCR issue. The way the problem was solved would put the biggest jail breaks to shame! He would simply lift their VCR from his home when his father is not there, wrap it in a towel, put a couple of thick, old pujabarshikis where the VCR were till then, cover it with another towel, take a taxi and deliver it to me. Suddha, like all true visionaries, however has a bit of problem understanding the context of mundane everyday things.

On May 10 morning - when many people were slowly entering for classes - thus a yellow taxi screeched to stop in front of Mechanical engineering building. A tall, unshaven and unknown youth carrying a cubical thing wrapped in yellow bath-towel (still somewhat wet!) surreptitiously came out. Paid the fare to the cabbie. Carefully flipped a zippo lighter and lit a 555 and started ascending the four stories. I was in my first class of the day, and was waiting for it to get over so I could go home and collect the VCR. Suddenly, there was a loud knock on the door. Without waiting for any reply whatsoever from inside, Suddha's stubbly face peeked in and - in front of the teacher and about fifty odd people inside, and some curious onlookers outside - boomed- "VCR enechi" (Got the VCR). It was, perhaps, just a wee bit less declarative than Rembrant's "Moses with the Tablets". But then the tablets were not exactly wrapped in some smelly bath towels either!

Gupta, Dasgupta

Jadavpur P.S. was also Jadavpur B.S. (bus stop). It is the pinnacle of secularism, as Prince Anwar Shah Road starts off at a right angle to a Raja S.C.Mullick Road. As one walks away from the thana, towards North, on the left side - after a few yards - would be a certain shop named "Dasgupta". Like other liquor shops in Calcutta, a cast iron grill over quite tall reinforced concrete pillar separated the substance from the abusers. Still, one had to step up couple of stairs, and stretch the legs a bit, just to get over to the lower part of the grill to order. Once ordered, the helper inside would fetch the bottle, wrap it with the seventh page of a month old "The Statesman", open a drawer that the buyer could not see from the other side of the grill, take out a pitch black plastic bag, put the bottle inside the bag and with a swift but accurate motion would get the bottle out through one of the two holes on the grill used to exchange money and soon to be Puke. Apparently, the idea behind the newspaper and black plastic was to hide the fact that even people wearing trousers could belittle themselves to fetch their alcohol. Problem was - no other substance in at least a 52 mile radius ever was packed in that kind of black plastic bag. In fact, I guess the black plastic bags too were manufactured by Shaw Wallace etc.

Our shopping list was something like -

(unit in 750s - large bottles) -

2 Vodkas -Smirnoff had just arrived.
2 Gin - London Lime was popular.
8 or 9 Beer

(unit in 375s - small bottles) -

2 Whiskeys - A particular brand used to give "free" drinking glasses. That was the motivation.
4 rums -

The shopper - a non-local - was explicitly told before taking off from my home to only go and buy things like Kurkure etc if and only if all these can be purchased first. We were not sure how many will eventually turn up, but there were about nine people to start with. My neighbors - who knew very well my parents were away - must have been thinking we have a tough exam ahead to see so many of us quietly slipping into my place at a ripe 2PM.

Another friend, let's call him AD, was sent to scour for a certain video cassette starting from Four Star Video (nested well inside Jodhpur Park) to Gupta Video (Golpark, just below the gaze of a charged Swami Vivekananda). Someone brought the news that "top Pakistani stars" did something very, very interesting in some super-clandestine party in London and the video was a raze in places like Dubai. The premise was promising, but the problem was the title of the video. We heard it was "code named", perhaps to avoid customs and crazy cops as it was smuggled within the country, "NUDE MUJRAS IN LONDON"!!

Now, those of you who never have been around Golpark around 3PM-ish would never know what a strong crowd of school or "South Point" returned kids and their moms get back to their homes at that hour. Also, a very sizable portion of that crowd often enters "Mouchak" and caters themselves to sweet relishes and sometimes picks up likes of "Bambi", "Lion King" or even "Gupi Gyne, Bagha Byne" from "Gupta Video" for the evening. When AD was met with blank stares at the whispering mention of the video title at "Four Star Video", he got on to an Auto rickshaw and went to Golpark. Once inside "Gupta Video", he realized the ratio between kids and adults in the shop would have been exactly ONE, had it not been for himself and the two mustached, spectacled, stony faced owners.

Most of the kids, just like in any other days, were apparently with their moms or grand parents. When it was AD's turn to ask for what he wants, he took his face down and mumbled something. The elder brother of the owners did not even bat an eyelid. He asked - in a super normal tone - "What is the name again"? AD perhaps tried a different tone and it did not work. The other guy on that side of the counter now got a bit impatient seeing so many kids are waiting in queue. He asked -- from quite a distance -- "Kon boita chai dada?" (What movie it was again?). AD, already feeling an enormous time pressure, blurted - with enough velocity and pitch in his baritone to carry the words across the room to the other guy - "N.U.D.E. MUJRAS IN LONDON". Legend has it while there was a pin-drop silence in the room as the mothers and grandparents tried to either hide or rush away from the shop, the counter guy coolly told his brother "Shelf 12, number 3". AD was then asked his name - so they could enter the VHS in the register. AD was carrying my membership card. He magnanimously retained the same decibel level to say MY name! From that day, I never ever went to Golpark with anything that could distinguish me.

Celebrations XXX

Get no hint, please. That is the name of a good rum brand.

Back in my place, there was a shortage of glasses. Someone suggested Sudhha be given a baalti (bucket) to drink from. He was hurt and did not drink at all and left soon. Since I was the host, I decided to drink straight from a long bottle of Vodka. Drinking sessions were going on in three rooms. The living room, by then, had the VCR running. The first bedroom had one future award winning scientist dishing out one romantic song after another gazal. The second bedroom had a couple of folks generally chatting easily with drinks and smoking. Every room had at least 4-5 people, except the room with the VCR where people lost all counts. After a while, I stopped trying to figure out if I knew this guy at all or he was just a party crasher. ST was sitting about an inch away from our ONIDA tv blocking the exit from the room. As SG, after a bit of drinking, tried to exit to the bathroom -- ST attacked SG. ST demanded "do whatever you want to do HERE"!! I was by the middle of the Vodka and already got so bored to leave that and start the Whiskey's or may be the Rum's - don't remember.

After a while I woke up in absolute silence. Oh sorry - there was the so-called "Pakistani Stars" moaning next room. I was in one of the bedrooms, royally spread over the entire bed as a whole bunch of onlookers were - very anxiously - staring at me from near the door. I pulled myself up and started throwing up on the left side of the bed. By the time I stopped the moaning did too.

Next time I woke up I saw fewer people in the room. But they were busy cleaning up the left side of the bed with one holding a bucket, another a broom and another trying to figure out where else to remove stain from. I did not want to waste their effort. This time I threw up on the right side. Just before passing out I heard some loud knocks on our door.

What happened then defined a big part of how I would be known among my relatives. I of course heard and later pieced it together as it had happened. Hearing the knocks our would-be scientist peeped through the hole and saw a bunch of my relatives standing outside the main door. He was after 4th or 5th shot of Rum, and for some odd reason considered himself to be in "control". Coming back to the living room - very next to the main door - he whispered to everyone watching the "movie" - to go and hide in the farthest bedroom. My relatives standing outside were hearing feeble moans that turned into thuds of about fifteen or so people trying to scuttle away on concrete floor - some of them falling on various furniture in the ensuing melee. My relatives, concerned, knocked again. My scientist friend opened the door ajar and just took out his face, that smelt VERY strongly of cheap rum, to announce that I was feeling ill and cannot see them right then. My relatives came to see if I was doing OK without my parents. After all they heard from outside and after being told by a fluffy, drunken, unknown face from inside *my* house that I am not well, they somehow did not insist to see me anymore. They left. One of them did not even show up for my wedding more than a decade later.

When I gained consciousness hours later, except a bit of stuffy smell I could not tell if anything happened in the house. With my true friends overzealousness even the old dishes I ate the night before were clean. Someone apparently was more drunk than I was! I still had over two hundred rupees left. I still had four more days. And I had to think, fast, of a good spin for the entire event that day for folks at college, my relatives, my neighbors and for my father's friend who actually saw a guy exiting from our place with many empty liquor bottles and dumping it in the trash area! Feeling the tremendous pressure and hating everything that was happening to my body, I passed out again.