Dec 28, 2009

Mixing Peanuts and Cricket

Gulping down the insipid coffee to inoculate me against a Saturday hangover, I ran pell-mell down the apartment stairs out into dawn and jogged to the road. I tried flagging down the first auto; he refused point blank. I waited in my adidas sneakers for ten more minutes before Autorickshaw #2 acquiesced and off I was to play cricket after a really long gap of seven months.

As the rickshaw sped across the non-existent hustle and bustle of a sleepy Sunday morning on the Lokhandwala roads, early morning joggers, sleepy tea stalls and paid toilet booths flashed by. The significance did not strike me. I leaned out of the auto to get a glimpse of the glorious sun, rising across a clear blue expanse and some retarded bird shat on my clean-washed T shirt. Denigrating the process of digestion and in turn the lineage of retarded birds, I moved to a more central position inside the auto. The auto-man took double the time, triple the distance and four times the fare. Cursing, I jogged my way through tall apartment buildings that concealed a well-laid ground. And by well-laid, I mean it in all the senses possible.

But currently, it was as deserted as the premiere show for Vettaikaran. There was just one plumber/watchman who started toe-carving kolams on the earth on seeing me. Disgusted, I fished out my phone and called the organizer.

"Dude..!!". I said.
"Thood", he mumbled.
"WTF are you??" I screamed like a scorned PMS-struck teenager.
"Eh?", he said.

I realized it was futile and called the next in command. His wife answered the phone promptly. I told her that the situation was one of national importance. She understood quickly; a bit too quickly. The reasons were unclear; was it because I usually charm the pants off any middle aged woman I talk to or because she wants her spouse to get some dosage of good exercise? With no intention of stealing Tiger Woods' thunder I settled on the latter. Ten minutes more and the ground was littered with paunchy, grumpy men cursing wives, kids, marriages and for some reason, Aamir Khan.

But cricket is that sort of the game where you end up liking the game irrespective of all that aforementioned balderdash. I saw a marked increase in the players' confidence levels as they pranced and danced across the ground, literally violating what was left of her. The transition seemed so wonderful that I started believing in the true spirit of cricket. Cricket runs in our blood, cricket is everything; it can cure breakups, beat the hell out of a Chuck Norris flick on the television and create bonds so strong that chemists in Kazakhstan are still conspiring to develop a bio-weapon out of it to unleash it on Antarctica. I squinted at the sun and suddenly realized all my beliefs was just bovine excreta.

The main reason was that the apartments around had come to life with mushroomed spectators. Most of them were bored housewives whose husbands were still snoring the ceiling plaster down. Anyway, half an hour into the game the first innings was nearing its end. My stomach rumbled as I took my menacing approach of a bull on steroids to bowl the last over. I graciously gifted 17 runs in one single over. My ancestors turned in their graves as the humiliation lost me my so-sought after mojo. I could feel the audience sniggering at my plight. It had to be redeemed. I beat my belly and swore to get even. As I was walking back to the pavilion, frustrated, a vision holding a plate of peanuts and a goblet of lime juice rose. It was a benevolent-looking Maami, resplendent in a brown madisar who had come down from the apartments. I thanklessly gorged on the peanuts without thinking twice or even thrice.

Our innings began disastrously, chasing 83 runs in eight overs with 6 batsmen. Our openers got out so quickly that it looked like a trekking expedition to the pitch. After that, a decent flow of runs poured due to some exquisite stroke-play from our penultimate batsmen. There was a brief scuffle sometime during the game, when the hormonal drool content in the ground attained an all-time high; the only difference being, I have never seen punches being hindered by paunches (excluding Sam Anderson). Anyway, just when we looked like we were going to make it easily, there was a rather an unfortunate mix-up effecting a run out. Methinks, the batsmen were just running to get closer to the Maami who sat benignly, pacifying the returned batsmen who were only too pleased to be worried over. The score stood at 70 runs in seven overs. 12 was required off the last over as I went in to take strike.

My team of MBPs hoisted me and delivered swift kicks to my butt in celebration. Little did they know what they were soiling their hands with. I wrenched free from all of it, the team, the now-Chimp-scored audience and the lovely Maami (who winked while she was consoling the captain of the MHPs) and flew to the apartment gates. And then the pieces fell into place. That scheming Maami! But in her defense, it was all for the greater good(s). And yeah, she was also very pretty.

However, invariably, as luck would have it, autos after autos turned me down. I started running in the general direction of my house hoping to get a lift. And lo and behold! My apartment tower was right behind the ground! The grinning chipmunk of an auto-man, coiled in a hammock in Goa, recounting his exploits in the Mumbai underworld outsmarting rich, stupid kids with his ultra-sub machine autometer and impeccable driving skills as the bunch of loosely-clad auto-women oohed and aahed in pseudo-orgasmic pleasure; loomed in my face. My stomach burned, literally and figuratively.

I was steps away from the door when the Bhakra Nangal dam broke.

Dec 1, 2009

Pazhani Malai Steps

My Dad looked at me disgustedly. Random commuters looked at me disgustedly. I looked at myself, acting disgustedly. There was a noted level of apprehension that hung in the air like a squeezed fart. I was sure it was not going to happen. But my Dad is a hardcore fan of self-help books like, "You Can Win"; "I Can You Can", "Pepsi Recyclable Can" and the like.

It all started when my parents landed in Mumbai to pay me a surprise visit. I was not not totally prepared for it. There were enough empty beer and vodka bottles lying around in my house to buy a year's supply of whisky. I had just two hours notice to fumigate my house and keep it spic and span; whose meaning I have never heard of or never intended to use in the same sentence as my house/abode/den/tree. However my parents were least bothered about the state of the house. It was something else that bothered them that found us in this present situation.

The picture: Imagine a 25 tonne MCGM garbage lorry travelling at 70 kmph on the Western Express Highway. There is a small bicyclist coming in the opposite direction. There is also a small tea-shop somewhere in between the two. Now, continue imagining what happens next while I quickly explain my embarrassing situation before you have time to understand what the bloody dickens I am talking about.

My belly had grown so big that I cannot bend down and tie my shoelaces without breathing like a beaten walrus. True story. My parents, when they first saw me after almost six months, came close to throwing a public fit. For two whole days I listened to the incessant drivel on Improper Eating Habits, Not Eating Nutritious Food, Sleeping at Weird Hours etc. Beyond a point, I was so frustrated that I started watching reruns of Splitsvilla, which I would probably do only if there was a fully-grown moustache suspended somewhere around my head attached to a man wielding a hacksaw. But my parents paid little or no attention to the psychological post-teenage depression that leads to inadvertent increase in muscular fat, concentrated mostly near the intestinal region that might be partially due to enormous intake of fermented barley water ominously named after a Royal Carnivorous Avian species (quite stupidly) and partially to lack of consistent muscle displacement.

Thus started Operation Slim Down. My Dad is not necessarily a fitness freak. But he strictly believes in screwing me up. Somehow, he managed to hoodwink me into going to a mall where he suddenly started fussing about wanting a tote bag and completely changed once we entered an Adidas store. My Mom came out with the big guns and walloped a load of worry that made me feel so bad, that I allowed them pamper to me into buying a good looking pair of Adidas sneakers. They looked quite cool when I wore them. My parents were happy, I was happy, the dealer was happy and all's well that still has a lot more to go before it does not end very well.

Two days later, I came home really tired. My parents wanted to go someplace where I could relax. I could of think of only one place that I could relax but that would mean me getting signed out of my Dad's will. And they wanted me to wear my new sneakers. I was a fool of the highest order as I gave in.

Half an hour later, after winding in and out of Lokhandwala market's by-streets we finally landed near a board that said, "Fame Fitnass Center". I almost took to my heels if not for the fact that my Dad weighed a couple of hundred pounds more than me and he was taller than me by at least a foot. Mutely swearing at genetic randomness, I was iron-gripped to the reception and was made to sign up. That was that, for the time being.

And so started the regime. But there is a twist to the tale. What began as a "Amma, I have a flea in my eye. I dont think I will be able to see the question paper. Can I bunk the Half-Yearly exams altogether?" affair slowly evolved into a, "Amma, where's my multi-purpose pen pencil? If I have to score the first rank in the Half Yearly exams, I will have to underline the botanical names of animal genetalia." The second I come back from office, I used to set off for the gym slinging a bag and wearing my brand new sneakers. Credibly enough, I also used to come back drenched in sweat and perspiration. But, contrary to the old bloke, Darwin's theory, the process was quick and not long drawn out. It eventually led to the sowing of the seeds of doubt. In due course, the seeds sprouted and flowered to become a full-blown mega-whopper of a Tree of Incertitude.

Exactly two days before my parents scooted out of Bal Thackeray's province, my Dad decided to investigate. Donning a Rs:50 worth deerstalkers cap that was haggled off from Saravana stores, he shadowed me, right up to the gym. What he saw there rendered him so speechless for days, that he could have acted in Raja Harischandra without batting an eyelid.

I had to take the help of my Mom to paraphrase his feelings exactly:
Once my son reached the gym, he went into the changing room and changed into his sneakers. He then came out and waited for some time. After ten or so minutes, a pretty number walked up to him and they went together to the treadmill. My son just stood there yapping a dime a dozen, as the pretty number started jogging. This went on for almost an hour. After which, my dear son went back to the changing room, removed his sneakers and walked out of the gym. Once out of the gym, he took out his bottle and proceeded to empty its contents over himself, shaking his meager scalp like Julie Andress. And then he saw me......

I lasted four more days. My sneakers are collecting dust now, as a full-time profession.