What's new? - Check out my poems at my other blog

Wednesday, June 25

Simplicity Swami

A trail of invisible vapours breathed an intoxicating scent around the small, sparsely furnished two bedroom house.
By the time the heady aroma wafted towards his nostrils, Swami was already up and about. It was a proud day for the Subramaniam household, and for the many generations that had carried the Subramaniam family name.

Swami couldn't believe his eyes when the appointment letter arrived a week back. It wasn't that he had performed badly during the interview, he was just too simple a person to believe that he was capable of greatness.

Swami was as devout as most devout brahmins go. It was not surprising to watch him pray fervently before opening the envelope and then praying afterward, only to thank God for his good fortune and promising to visit the temple nearby, for every day of the following week.

As Swami emerged from his bath, the smell of talcum powder and bath soap almost nearly overpowered the scents from the Puja (prayer) room, if only for an instant. He looked at his neatly pressed, clean white shirt, and his father's red tie. He also looked at his shoes extra hard to check if he could see his face grinning back at him. He had spent most of the previous night trying to polish the shoes to make them as shiny as possible.

"It's a shoe, not a mirror!"

There was nothing abnormally unique about Swami, nothing unusually weird that might pass off as cool or strange. He was a typical, run-of-the-mill brahmin boy that many parents in Madras once had, before losing their sons to nicotine, alcohol, girls, late night parties, pre-marital intercourse and social circles.

For instance, Swami had just two pairs of jeans, both gifted to him. One was given to him during Diwali, and the other was bought for his birthday. And he neatly pressed them every time, before categorically placing them in the 2 shelves that held all of his clothes.

He had a few friends. Well, they were technically not his friends, for they were unlike him. They were the sort that would look at women lecherously, make snide remarks, pick up quarrels with random people, drink on the street with the money stolen from their parents during the weekend, etc. But they were the closest he had to friends, and so Swami had to make do.
Of course they made a lot of fun of him, mainly because he was an outcast, but they seldom crossed the line, because Swami was as helpful as he was obedient. Whenever it came to money for cigarettes, whiskey, bribes, bail, etc, the guys always counted on Swami.

"Swami, you are so simple! What are you doing here in this dangerous city?"

"Yesh, Simple.. Shitee.. SWAMI!!"

"Haha! Simplicity Swami! That's what we'll call you."

'Simplicity Swami' wolfed down idlis and sambhar as quickly as his mouth, and mother permitted. He had to take the blessings of many elders in the neighbourhood, as well as drop in to see his uncle and aunt on his way to the work. He wanted to make it to the office a good half hour earlier than he had to, because he was the kind of person who always tried to make a good impression on people.

Most importantly, there was nothing to deter the foretold path his future ought to take. Stones had been cast, parrots had preached and palms had been read. Swami was going to live his life to the fullest, in the best of health, make lots of money and find his bride.
His mother was clearly overjoyed, because even as Swami was saying his goodbyes, she was already planning his marriage, and mentally making a note to call the marriage broker the following day.

And that's how Swami came to gaze up at the 100-storey, glass encased structure that would soon become his home away from home for many years to come.

That of course, will be a different story altogether......

    What's new? - Check out my poems at my other blog

Sunday, June 15

Road Trippin'

I'm still totally in awe of the title I chose for this post! It is so apt! I feel so clever!

Anyway, here goes....

He was just about to head home.

"Hey man, do you smoke up?"
"Yeah, cool. Is that what you guys are doing there?"
"You don't have to if you don't want to."
"No that's alright. I want to."

20 minutes later he was navigating his bike through the crowded streets, but before that...
A brief stop to grab some mint.

He gets off the bike and marches with very confident steps to the shop nearby and asks for some mint.
Almost immediately he swings around because he's not sure if he remembered to put the stand on his bike. Phew! Close call...

.... And then, his mind speaks!

"Mint in hand. Why the fuck are my legs so shaky? Wait, did I pay the guy? Crap! Okay, just reach out for your wallet... "
"err, where is it? Ah! Got it. Hee! The coins feel so weird on my numb palms. Wait! My palms are freaking numb! How the hell did that happen?"

"Okay, I can't get the fucking mint in my mouth, *$^&%^*%!!"
"Oh wait, my helmet's in the way! Hahaha!!"
"Dude, you better calm the fuck down. Everyone around you is looking right at you!"
"What??? Aaaahh!!"

"Wait! I don't think they are. It's just a hallucination, but you should stay calm anyway and not draw any attention."
"Okay, the chewing helps. Good move there man! I thought You/I were/was totally going to lose it."

"Yes! I'm back on my bike now. Hey! This feels so strange. Now before we start, there are a few groundrules we must go through..."
"Wait! I haven't started yet! Don't take off!"

"It's okay, I'm going to keep looking at the speedo and make sure I don't cross 35!"
"Oh crap! I forgot to look at the road. Heehee!"

"This feels so strange, I'm going to remain so focused on the road though. If I get caught in this state, people are bound to know I smoked some really good shit. God! I hope I don't get into an accident even if it isn't my fault. That way, when they run some tests they will detect marijuana and I'll be in trouble and be found guilty even if the accident was not my fault at all!"

.......... He used to talk to himself very often. A lot more than normal people normally did. He had a little voice inside his head that spoke to him and asked him many interesting questions.

He now felt as if the voice inside his head had just injected itself with ultra-strong caffeine, for the voice kept asking one question after another, without as much as a single pause for breath.

"Hey, do you feel like blowing a bubble with that gum you're chewing?"
"Shut up! I'm wearing a full-face helmet right now!"

"Hey, do you feel like giving some random person a lift?"

"Are we there yet?"
"How long is it going to take?"
"You're going to get screwed! Do you know that?"
"Why are matchstick heads black in colour?"
"When did you last clean the bike?"
"I hope you don't run over a dead rat on the road"
"Can I please listen to the Ipod? Stop the bike, I want to listen to some music!"
"All that chewing is driving me crazy!"
"Are you on the right gear?"
"The wind feels strange on my face, do you feel it too?"
"Hee! My sweaty palms feel all tingly because of the breeze!"
"Do you think you have a flat? I hope not!"
"Can I try speaking in different languages?"
"Can you take both your hands off the bike?"
"Can I call you, 'me' for a while and me, 'you'?
"Please let me listen to some music! Can I hum? Okay, I'm going to start singing in your head."

His mind was going to explode, he knew it. But how could he shut it up? He soon realised it was going to be physically impossible and therefore gave in to the charms of the robotic voice that blasted question after question like a smoking machine gun barrel.
Almost at once, the voice died down, as if finally realising that it did not have to struggle and therefore lost interest.

"Dude!! The road! Don't drift off!"
"Phew, thanks for that... So, the road then."
"Wait!! What is this road. Okay, I don't fucking remember which road this is. Am I supposed to be here? Where am I? Nothing seems familiar!"

"Okay, don't panic. Just keep riding till you find something you recognize."
"Crap! I'm coming to a turn. Where do I go? WHERE DO I GO???"

"Ah yes, I know this route, turn right... Phew!"

"Man! That was close, I hope I don't get lost again."
"Hah! I'm totally blogging about this."

The continuous repertoire of events happened sequentially, over and over again, every 2 minutes, as he kept drifting off to engage in new, confounding arguments with the self, about nothing of great importance. His eyes were glazed, blazed, and he was blitz'd right out of his skull.

Being high was awesome!

And in the end, everyone lived...

Okay, this story may be fiction............... Don't tell the cops anyway!

    What's new? - Check out my poems at my other blog

Tuesday, June 10


This is a cleverly crafted, detailed, 'do-it-yourself' instruction booklet that teaches one the finesse of hurling beautiful and wholesome balls of spit, right out of moving trains.
Also included is a detailed guide on how to carefully structure the spittle into an aero-dynamical figure so as to let it fly effortlessly against the wind.

I know you fell for that, and yes, I disgusted myself while I typed all that...
Read on, I promise you the rest of the post is 'spit-free'. That's a sentence I might never say again!

Alright, so I have already complained about the
awesome bus journeys one can take in Chennai and the awesomeness of our national aircraft carriers. I guess there's just one thing left to do...

The following article (I'm calling it an article because it sounds professional, and awesome!) is based on a man's journey through the vast sea of bodies nestled so closely together, much like;
1. Pollen on a bee's bottom.
2. An unemployment office.
3. A jar of Amla, homemade by my grandmother (Yuck!)

I hadn't ever given public transport any thought till I started college.
I suddenly came to realise that the bicycle simply would not cut it and that I was way too undeserving to be able to coax my father into buying me a motorcycle.
And during my short tryst with the lovable chaps who have cursed me, have gotten cursed at, have drawn blood, and at one point of time, even jumped out a moving train, I must say that my attempt at traveling by the local train to college and back was an experience to reckon with.

Once upon a time (which is how all stories usually start), we gathered outside the college to catch the usual bus home. In the distance we noticed a mangled pile of bodies heading our way. It looked like the most complex human pyramid ever. Much like the Rubik's cube of human pyramids. The sheer number of bodies topped by yet another sea of bodies cleverly hid the bus that bore the brunt of all that weight. It almost appeared to seem that, if another person set foot on that bus, it would have groaned (like a human being) and collapsed (like a human being).
Exaggeration aside, the bus was not fit for travel.
Which was how I came about experiencing the wondrous joys of traveling in a train. Mainly because it was better than a bus...
Or was it!

Being men, we have a penchant for living life on the dangerous side. This would involve several life threatening adventures of sorts like;
1. Walking on a ledge several feet high
2. Trying to attempt a wheelie
3. Flirting with an attractive woman, already in a relationship with someone else, preferably a guy obsessed with visiting the gym twice a day.
4. Sitting through an episode of Sex and the City
... And the likes...
Anyway, since I'm digressing and would very much like to talk about what I originally intended to talk about, I must tell you that the train offered enough and more scope to be young, spirited and driven loco! (Loco is a clever usage of the word because of the association it has with the word locomotive, which is featured predominantly in this 'article'. You might be skeptical, but I actually try very hard.)

A person traveling by the local train has two options;
1. Stand (Never sit! Because you can't anyway) inside the train, amongst fishmongers, people who detest having to take baths, people who desperately need baths and various escapees from the local zoo. Oh, and also, one must be prepared to witness the variety of body parts that are likely to go numb because of the constricted blood flow.
2. Hang (by a hand, leg, finger, wisp of hair) from the side of the train, which is very perilous and involves great expertise. Of course, when you want to trade with Dr. Death, you will be rewarded with fresh air and a funky new hairstyle (a.k.a messed up, rearranged hair).
This part of the compartment, where many hands grasp the thick iron bar (am I the only one who finds this sentence lewd?), where I spent almost all of my traveling time, would forever be known as the Bridge of Fear (or Freedom as the case may be).
BOF - Because suddenly I like saying the word 'Bof'. It sounds childishly amusing.
Anyway, about this Bof, man! It's like so totally awesome that when I'm on it, I'm like... Woohoo!

Isn't the change of writing style totally annoying?
I know! I feel the rage too. I honestly can't imagine why people would want to talk like that.

Anyway, when I'm not enjoying the thickly polluted wind on my face, I am busy grappling for space on the Bof which is barely 4 centimeters wide (I'm lucky if I get a toe in). I'm also trying to dodge flecks of spit that a careless passenger in front would have let loose. I'm also trying to avoid getting thwacked by some of the electric poles that run alongside the train. I'm also trying to mentally train my palms to not sweat profusely.
Have you ever seen a fat person's fabric ripping apart? Well, a crowded train is symbolically similar. The people hanging off the Bof look like that excess fat that has caused a tear at the seams.
Another clever association here is that I don't fit into any of my clothes now, and by typing this I suddenly feel so motivated to lose weight and eat nutritious food!

Anyway, this place on a train is unbelievably territorial. There are several unwritten rules in the imaginary book of Railway Bof Travel Guidelines that state that;
1. One must not try to uproot one's existing premium position as the leader of the Bof (the front part of the bridge), unless he/she(yeah right!) is willing to encounter greater risk. This should be aptly demonstrated by running alongside the train for a far greater time (before boarding), than the reigning champion, to state your claim as leader of the Bof.
2. As a collective, you must look out for your Bof Brothers when they are about to lose their grip. If you are too busy trying to save yourself to notice, you shall be pardoned.
3. If a fellow Bof aspirant is trying way too hard and risking all odds to claim a rightful place, he must be saluted and helped up. Such rare people should be respected, especially if they fail to board and get terribly injured.
4. If a person manages to get on the Bof by committing adultery or by classic betrayal, he ought to be stripped off his brotherhood. But since the policing patrons are also imaginary, nothing of significance can be done, apart from giving looks that say, 'I Hope You Die!'.

On one fateful day (which is how all sad stories usually start, but don't worry. Nobody dies here), while we waited patiently for a train in the overly busy platform (why are these people 'busy' if they're on their way back home?!?), a train arrived, ridiculously full of people. It reminded me (John Dorian style) of the Indian way of transporting cattle to slaughter houses. Unfortunately for us, instead of two trains plying on two sets of railway tracks, one was closed for maintenance and everyone had to travel by that single train. Even while we stood there, debating whether it was worth the risk or not, we found ourselves getting pushed into the train (Yay, for automated decision making!). When the train reached the next station, we tumbled out like drunken overweight acrobats, gasping and wheezing for breath. When we turned around, we witnessed this;
1. People wanting to get out couldn't, because of people wanting to get in.
2. People wanting to get in couldn't, because of people wanting to get out.
3. There were people who actually swung their arms around windows, securely latching their bodies (and also their fates). In case they did manage to slip, their shoulders would get dislocated, but hell! They would stay glued to the train by that stretch of skin, mind you.

Anyway, I think that was the day of solidarity, when we swore as a collaborative that we would find alternative ways to reach college. Also, I got caught for ticketless travel once (I totally bluffed my way out... Suckers!)
Thereafter, I got a motorcycle, which was stolen later, which is a long story.

Large Drunk Angry Man:
One unusually bright morning (which is how weird cheery stories start, unlike this one), when the train was relatively less crowded (which meant I could stand and breathe), a large angry drunk man (henceforth known as LAD) came ambling about. I could smell the cheap whiskey in his breath and his clothes from a mile away. And he decided to pick on me and abuse me in a language I hadn't ever heard (let us call this language 'angry drunk babble'). I heard a lot of rrrrr's and assumed it might be French after all.
Anyway, LAD's next move was an attempt to push me out of the moving train, which I took to with great alarm. Not because he was angry or drunk, but because he was large.
As people held their breaths, as I whimpered, as he glared with those glazed eyes, and as I continue with this melodrama, he charged at me. I side-stepped with ease, mainly because of the fact that he was staggering in slow-motion and moreover, he fell off the train as it was slowing down at the station. I don't think he was bruised much, but I didn't wait to find out.

I had a tee that had an album cover of 'The Wall' by Pink Floyd that I wore to death, till it ripped in various places. And then I played basketball with it, until it became so useless that sweat would just flow down it, instead of getting absorbed. And then I planned to frame it on my wall when it mysteriously disappeared to begin its career as a wash-cloth.
One fine day (it actually wasn't, but I like starting my sentences so), while I wore the tee for the umpteenth time to college, a guy peered at it in the station and said; "Haha... You're wearing pink!"
"Dude! Read! It says Pink Floyd, and it's a black tee. And it's awesome!"
Of course, I knew the cretin would never really be able to understand that even if I had said it, and I walked away with my nose in the air, as if to ridicule the man's ignorance.

Poles of Death (PoD):
Yes, abbreviations, many! Poles of Death, otherwise known as the PoD, were a force to reckon with, because we all got well acquainted while we flew swiftly over the land on the Bof. At times when the train would get overly crowded (which was almost always), as people would spill out of the entrance-way, the PoDs would stand as watchmen to make sure we remained safely within their reach as the trains barreled their way to the next station. The PoDs were basically electricity poles that would run alongside the railway tracks, without which the train could not function. As we approached yet another PoD, it was the duty of the Bof Brother way up ahead in the front to warn the others to stay out of harms way. This is normally done by screaming 'Pole!' so that people know when to completely suck their breath and compress themselves inside the train for a brief second. Due to a constant repetition of this routine, the train itself looked like a living, breathing organism. Only it looked ugly as hell.

Yes, my experiences were many. But they were also juvenile and hopefully will remain strictly memoirs of my past.
As a conclusion, I would like to salute all those brave comrades who have fallen (literally?) to the inviting bliss of the BoF, even if it was their fault they were drunk or stupid.
I really don't know the difference between joking and joking about something solemn, like death. To me, everything is humour.

But someday in the near future (which is how most stories usually end), I would like to be that guy again.
To stand on that ledge, uncaring, free, with the thickly polluted wind rushing past my face...