Dec 31, 2012

Of weekends, journeys, and other such stuff...

There is an episode in the TV series 'How I met your Mother' where something called the 'Murtaugh List' is mentioned (yes, now you know that I watch lame sitcoms and you can judge me for it). They talk about this cop character from the 'Lethal Weapon' movie series, who keeps saying "I'm too old for this shit". Or "stuff". Whatever.

The reason I am starting this post on this note would become clear shortly. Or maybe not. Lately, I find myself unable to write coherently. Possibly the result of, you know, too much alcohol killing, like, the last remaining brain cells in me. Just sayin.

Anyways, it all started last Saturday. December 22, to be precise. When I went back to ye old alma mater, for my 5-year batch reunion. And as I sat there, reminiscing about the wonderful times spent there, I realized that while it might seem like yesterday that I was fretting about a Quant quiz or a Fin submission, it has been FIVE WHOLE YEARS since those innocent times. That was the first inkling of things to come.

The alumni committee members had had this bright idea of combining an 'outdoor activities' with a reunion. And had set up a high platform, and this 'wall' where one could do 'rock climbing' from one side and rappel down the other. I buckled on the safety belt and started climbing. The first few steps were easy. And then, I started panting. And wheezing. By the time I reached the top, my heart was pounding like crazy and I was slightly dizzy. The descent was a breeze, but once I landed, I told myself, "I'm too old for this shit."

The rest of the evening went fine though. Possibly because I wasn't climbing vertical surfaces, also because the bunch of people who were there were polite enough to suffer my PJs with smiles. Dinner was as bad as it used to be during our time. Thankfully, some things don't change with time. We stood around, chatting about nothing in particular, like always. Wait, not like always. Maybe it's just me, but the conversations 5 years back were more free-flowing. The present ones, while still very pleasant and enjoyable, lacked the zing. Maybe because we were a bit more formal than what we used to be. Maybe because we have all grown past the age where the mode to start a conversation was to suggest that the person was having inappropriate relations with his maternal parent and/or female sibling. Given the tragic events of the past week, anyway most of us had decided to give up such language. Life is such a bitch, I tell you. Oops.

Some of us decided that conversation flows more freely when certain fermented liquids help loosen our tongues. And maybe it was the liquid, maybe it was that I was dumbed down by the intake of the same and hence even normal small talk seemed more intellectual, but that conversation did flow more freely. I finally reached home at 1.30 am, thanked my lucky stars that the watchman was awake and staggered into bed...

... only to be woken up by my alarm at 3.30 am. Since I had to reach the airport at 5.00 am to catch an early morning flight to Bangalore. Only to realize that the cab booked for the morning hadn't bothered to turn up. Murphy strikes. Again, thankful that some things don't change with time. As I somehow convinced an auto guy to cart me to the airport in time, finished my check-in, dropped into the airport seat and felt slightly nauseated during take-off, I told myself "I'm too old for this shit."

I land at my cousin's place, do the general chit chat, only to be badgered about my, you guessed it, 'single status.' While I may be too old for a lot of shit, I still strongly believe I am too young and immature to be foisted on some unsuspecting lady who will realize just a moment too late that she's doomed for life. So, post a good lunch, during which I bravely fended off well-meaning advice, I took off to my friend's place.

Now, let me interrupt this meandering narrative to tell you something useful. These Smirnoff guys have introduced a new flavour called 'Espresso' and let me tell you, nothing pleases a TamBrahm more than the smell of coffee. And when you have something which smells like coffee, tastes like nothing and gives you a high, you can count on at least one fan for life (yes, I drink flavoured vodka and not single malts. You can judge me for that too).

We sat around chatting about nothing in particular, although this person complains that we actually ended up not chatting about anything. I half remember a very meaningful conversation with this guy, but then I also half remember patting a pet dog, so I might actually have been dreaming a bit. As I woke up again on Monday early morning to go back to my cousin's place, I remember telling myself, "I'm too old for this shit."

After a day in Bangalore meeting more relatives and one more friend, I got into a train to Shimoga. Which was the purpose of the trip to Bangalore after all. When you share a flat with a guy for almost 3 years, and he calls you up one fine day to say he's getting married, it doesn't matter that it's too short a notice to get train tickets, or that's there might be quarter-end work pressure, or that you don't actually have a clue where his village is. You just pack up and go. Like I did.

So, the train left me at a place called Sagar Jambagaru. What a brilliant name for a station. A close second to Mettupalayam. Beats even Chinchpokli. I walk out of the station, manage to convey to the auto guy "Kannada gothilla", which he promptly interprets as a message to take me in for a ride of barely 300 metres to my hotel and charge me 20 bucks for it. Such brilliant assholes. If they had studied any further, they would have been bankers.

After a nice breakfast, and some much needed rest, I head out to my friend's place for a brilliant lunch. There is a simple rule in any Indian household. Ply your guests with more food than they can take. They put enough ghee on my plate, oops banana leaf, that whatever little baby steps I had taken in preparation for my planned half marathon run, oops walk, in January flew out the window. My friend even prepared for me a traditional paan, with some unprocessed tobacco in it, which he said might give me a 'high'. I chewed on that thing for quite some time, and while it had a, how to I put it, acidic tinge to it, no high came out of it. Chunna lagaya :(

I had a cab at my disposal, and I took the opportunity to visit Jog Falls. Because, this is not the monsoon season, the water flow was very limited, but the height from which it falls is awesome. Totally convinced to visit again during the rainy season. But the lack of water made it possible to descend to the bottom, since they have helpfully laid out steps to go down the cliff. It was a long climb down (some 1500 steps apparently, if wiki is to be believed, although I thought it was much, much more) and my knees were wobbly by the time I reached down. After spending some time dipping my feet into the cold water and refreshing myself, I climbed back, which took me the better part of an hour, while I kept muttering to myself  "I'm too old for this shit".

I'll again interrupt this narrative to tell you that while I don't believe in Hell (or heaven for that matter), sometimes I like to imagine there is one. And a special place is reserved in it for those who litter places of natural beauty (or any place, for that matter). And the mode of punishment is that every plastic bottle they threw there is shoved up their backside, one by one, until they are rotting full of it. And when that is done, we turn to the broken glass beer bottles, which we use to carve "Asshole Heart Lady name" on his backside. End of rant.

On the way back, I also visited an ancient temple, of sixteenth century vintage, at Ikkeri. While I am not a big fan of the deities inside, I like to walk around temples. I wonder whether the king who commissioned the project was a benevolent one who had too much money to spare and came up with this Keynesian idea of 'creating work' to ensure people got wages and food, or was a megalomaniac who wanted his legacy to stand the test of time and whipped his workers into carving stones while his subjects starved. The effort involved in carting huge rocks to one place, engaging hundreds of men to carve those rocks and stones into so many shapes, with such fine detail, to finally bring into being a monument which lasts hundreds of years, all to please a non-existent being (or at least one whom you have no hope of meeting), the sheer pointlessness of it all, never ceases to amaze me. And then I realized that, a 100 years from now, the temple will still be standing while the excel models and power-point presentations and appraisal notes and risk analyses that I come up with would have turned to so much dust, and I didn't know which was more pointless. And while I was about to stumble on some brilliant philosophical insight from all this profound introspection, I was interrupted by a loud bunch of idiots.

Ramadhir Singh (that iconic character in GoW played by Tigmanshu Dhulia) utters this gem "Hindustan mein jab tak sanima hai, log chutiya bante rahenge". I would like to add 'religion' to that list. There was this huge Nandi statue in the temple, in its usual seated position. One of its forelegs was bent a bit upwards, such that there was this small gap between its bent foreleg and the platform on which it sat. Barely enough for a small child to crawl through, when I first noticed it. And I saw this group, of people who looked like adults but probably not there yet mentally, push and prod themselves, twisting this way and that, bruising their heads and arms to pass through that gap. Apparently because once you succeed in going through that, your passage to heaven (or Kailas?) is assured. I wish I had a camera to capture that idiocy for posterity.

And with such thoughts, I retired to my hotel, had a curd rice dinner to pacify my increasingly unreliable digestive system and crashed in to my bed.

The next day was the day of the friend's wedding. I have a theory (actually not mine, I have heard it from enough people that it's difficult to attribute credit to any one of them), that the wise men made wedding proceedings exceedingly painful for the participants that they don't even entertain the thought of getting married again. It seems to have worked for ages. But it is immense fun to watch your friend squirm in his unusual attire (dhoti, shirt, coat on top, and a silk cloth over that, with a turban too!). Much fun was had, although eye-candy was lacking. And a sumptuous lunch was demolished on the banana leaf, like a boss!

And then it was time to return. Remember I had said, that when your friends invites you for a wedding, "it doesn't matter that it's too short a notice to get train tickets, or that's there might be quarter-end work pressure, or that you don't actually have a clue where his village is. You just pack up and go." Maybe I should qualify it with "as long as you don't have to endure a 15 hour bus journey to return home."

Yes, the lack of train ticket availability, combined with the innate miserliness of yours truly to take a flight again, with a hint of "what's the big deal about an overnight bus journey, I can sleep through it" bravado, resulted in me finding myself at Shimoga bus stand, waiting for a bus to take me back to Bombay.

You know when you don't want to think about something, and that something happens to be bladder control, you end up thinking about it even more and that makes you want to go again and again. That. I visited the pay-and-use toilet thrice in the space of 1.5 hours. Till even the guy at the counter waived off the two rupee charge for the last time I went.

Anyways, the bus came. And I got in. And settled comfortably in my seat, determined to sleep it out. After all, I can sleep in any moving vehicle. Even when riding pillion on a motorcycle. Or so I thought.

Remember the imaginary hell I mentioned. There is another special place reserved there for people who play Rowdy Rathore on full volume on the bus. I hope they spend an eternity listening to Chinta ta chitta chitta, while Sonakshi Sinha butts them with her forehead and Akshay Kumar grins at them. I did not have ear plugs. I could not shut out the noise. And I couldn't sleep. And so I wondered, how the brilliant Nasser, the same guy who played the villian so convincingly in Thevar Magan, and stood nose to nose with Kamal Hassan could reduce himself to this.

Miracles do happen in life, God probably does exist, because the movie finally ended. And they didn't play another. And I didn't wet my pants or crap into them, but timed my loo breaks with the officially mandated stops perfectly. Yay!

I was back in Bombay, with a sore back and a tired ass. But nation building doesn't happen if good people sleep off on working days and I was back in office, preparing excel models and making presentations. People in Andhra Pradesh, when you finally get out of load shedding and 12-day power holidays, feel free to thank me. People in Tamil Nadu, you have no hope.

But I wasn't done yet. I attended another friend's wedding on Fri night, had one more session of 'spirit'uality, and went to Pune to meet another friend on Saturday for yet another round of Smirnoff espresso (did I tell you how much I like it?) and poker night-out.

And when I woke up today morning, bleary-eyed, with a full work week ahead of me, I told myself for the umpteenth time, "I'm too old for this shit".

PS: So, here's my New Year Resolution: "I will work towards being fitter this year. Physically and mentally. So that I can continue doing stupid stuff like rock climbing at a college reunion, continuous booze-filled weekend night-outs, climb 1500 steps up and down, sit through 15 hour bus journeys, and fend off marriage proposals from pestering aunts, all like a boss. I will try to do even more stupid stuff and not fall for this nonsense about being too old for any of this shit. I will turn 30 with a smile, not with dread. On that note, Cheers 2013."


  1. Some narrative, that is.

    Indian weddings - it's like a new experience every time you attend one. Good luck with your resolutions!

    Also, I'm with you on the reservation for litterers.

  2. Indian weddings are fun, so long as you are not the one being wed...

    And the resolutions have been deliberately kept vague, so that no matter what, they can be claimed as a success.

    And people who litter deserve a separate rant post. Sometime.

  3. 5 year reunion at SP.. nice! Missed KC :-(

  4. @ PD:
    It was a nice get together. Lalit had sent a song too, will ask Snehasis to forward it to the batch...

    KC will always be special, unfortunately couldn't go there.

  5. I usually say "I'm too good for this shit",like Sheldon from TBBT says, "I'm too evolved for driving"..;-)

    Anyways, good luck with those resolutions. And when someone says you should get married since you are 30. Tell them Salman Khan is 47 and still a bachelor..:P

  6. @ Kanthu:
    Can't be Sheldon... sarcasm is too precious to me!

    And why stop at Salman Khan, one can take the name of Vajpayee :)