Thursday, May 24, 2007

Pulikunnel house, my Grandmother and a doctor.

This month I visited Pulikunnel house once again. It had been a long time since I went there (Pulikunnel house is my mother’s ancestral home). The reasons for visit, being a family get together. It was a low key affair compared to the 100 strong crowds that used to gather there for occasions like marriage, manasammatham etc.

My mother, being on very good terms with her mother, used to dump me and my brother there on all vacations till my grandmother passed away. We used to have two months of unparalleled fun. At all times there was a crowd there. Cousins, aunts, babies, wizened old men, the works!

To add to the human melee was the innumerable insects, hens, cats, cows and all such God’s creations. Add to that acres and acres of rubber, all types of trees (on which we honed our aerobic and acrobatic skills), big and small brooks, hills and boulders on the background, well it was a kid’s paradise. I am sure that it would have won hands down on comparison with any ultra-modern kid’s park.

Ammachi (our grandmother), was the pivot on which the house revolved. She was an excellent cook. The memory of her jack-fruit chips makes ones palate melt even to this day. The name of Bertie Wooster’s aunt’s French cook eludes me. But to P.G Wodehouse fans, I guess you must have got a fair idea of her culinary talents by now.

Kids, especially pampered ones like yours truly are bad eaters. My mother usually used the “round-eye-treatment”, “shove-the-food-in” and “plain-old-cane-and-blackmail” methods to get me to eat. Ammachi however used the much more diplomatic “story-for-food” program. Where she told the story and we ate the food and everyone was happy. This feeding program was made tougher by the fact that on most days we preferred having our food in the play houses we made on top of the adjoining hill. And/or in the shed where Appan (grandfather, but somehow we call him Appan) stored all the coconuts.

With the advent of the pizza age, the ceremonious lunch seems to have taken a back seat. I didn’t like ceremonious lunches much myself. Problem was there was an order in which to eat, etiquette to be followed, rules to be obeyed and all that hog wash. I am personally a fan of the pizza life but I still wouldn’t mind having that sort of lunch every Onam.

But that was not all. If ever there was an adventurous grandmother, then it was she.

As part of the “Grand Child Pampering Program” she used to take us all over the rubber country (Kottayam District) and allow us “holy baths” in all kinds of small, medium and big brooks. The reason for these circumambulations was ostentatiously “visits to old and dying relatives”. On rare occasions she used to take a dip herself, much to the consternation of older cousins who felt that she was a bit more wanting in her “modesty”.

On such journeys, on the way back, if it was already too late, she would make us tell the rosary in the car itself. That was one thing she was strict on. That her grand children should grow up pious and God fearing. But at least as far as my memory goes she was not "pious" strictly in the religious sense. But her life was.

Every time I reached Pulikunnel, I would run to the kitchen to see her and she would invariably pick me up grunting at how big I had grown over the year. Once she sprained/broke her arm (I don’t remember which) and my sister (Marina) tells me that I asked Ammachi to pat me to sleep. She patted me with her good arm, but I was not happy with that. I badgered her to pat me with her sprained arm and poor woman, she actually did that. Of course, I have decided to take a leaf out Kerala politics and “vehemently deny” that such a thing ever took place! A figment of an overstretched imagination no doubt!

Before the advent of distilled books on G.K, people genrally had proper G.K regarding their environment and acute practical knowledge about everything that was worth knowing. Ammachi was no exception. She passed on to us gems of knowledge that no G.K book could ever give. After all, I know that “thottaal vaadi” is a medicinal plant useful for small cuts and bruises and I know how to use this. But what do I do with “the first man on moon was Neil Armstrong” info?

Talking of medicine, how can one ever forget trips to Dr. N.E. Eeapens with Ammachi. English medicine was never much her strong point and to questions like “pallu maravicho” (do you feel the anesthetic?) the typical answer would be “maravichilla” (no affect) till he gets exasperated and says “aah, athrem maravichathu mathi” (that’s enough of waiting for the anesthetic to take affect), let me pull out your teeth.

I remember him taking out my teeth while I was talking, as if by magic! In fact, I only understood that it had been taken out when he gave it to me to keep as a souvenir.

For her the end came rather quickly. She did not have to suffer for too long. I guess at most she was sick for half a month or so (not sure here, cousins/Joechan can confirm).

Coming back to the house, it now has a new coat of paint and I had a camera. The rest is pasted below for all of u to see (Yeah, I wish, I had an SLR).

The house, it looks rather like a fortress from this angle.


inside out.


Frontal Right(I still haven’t mastered the padinjarae, karotae, thekkae and vadakae usages, so kindly bear with the right and left...:))

Frontal Left

TV Time, did you notice the clarity. I clearly remember seeing more grains than images on this TV for close to half a decade!

Chilling out on the easy chair.

Find the missing tree contest. The Mylanji tree is still there but something is definitely missing.


Rubber trees minus chocolate kuzhi

Flowers and trees. Anybody know what that "flowery tree" is called?

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Great expectations

When I was a kid, I wanted to be a lorry driver. What with every second auntie you meet demanding to hear your nursery rhymes and every third auntie asking “Monae, what do you want to be when you grow up?” This ambition did not remain secret for too long.

For some reason I did not get much encouragement from my parents about following my dreams. Those were the uncivilized pre-alchemist days of my youth. So instead of sticking on to my dream no matter what, I tried different variations like bus driver, car driver and even train driver. All of these evoked much the same response.

Things were looking quite bleak, when one day I said I wanted to be a pilot! This time around my father did not give me that well rehearsed condescending smile that he usually reserved for such career outbursts. Unfortunately for him, this state of enlightenment did not last too long. By the end of the month I had enough of flying imaginary airplanes and demanded a role change to priest. I had taken a fancy to those trendy “lohas” worn by Indian priests. Fortunately for me, this did not last too long either.

Next in line was scientist. I still wouldn’t mind being one, even though I fall rather short(ok, ok very short!) of the required IQ’s. I had ideas related to running trains on water, sending rockets to the parallel universe (idea snitched from Amar Chitra Katha) and basically impossible things or things considered impossible whichever way you take it.

Thus I was contemplating the design of my latest space ship when the phone rang and Amma asked me to take care of the Dosa on the stove. To the Dosa ignorant, making a Dosa requires that you toast both sides. So you need to turn it over to the other side when one side is finished and this was my current responsibility. I just loved doing it. When Amma came back, she was pretty happy to see that
1) I was still in one piece
2) I had not managed to set the kitchen on fire.
So, she didn’t mind too much about the burnt Dosa.

That was when I decided to be a chef. Amma was all for it. Looking back I see a bit of self interest acting there. Her bright intellect must have calculated the pros of having a good chef in the family. Anyways, with her support I didn’t mind Appa’s evident displeasure at my latest career choice.

Then one day I wrote a poem. It was not too bad for a kid my age. With one famous writer in the family and some more not so famous ones writing here and there and everywhere, I got immense support to be a poet/writer. Now I must confess one quirk in my character (the jealous whisper that my whole character is a quirk but more of that later). I am a rebel and a non-conformist at heart so when you encourage me to do something you are actually doing the opposite. Thus even after all the encouragement and “hoola-boola” surrounding my imminent rise to “poet-dom” nothing happened. In fact I steadfastly refused to write even one more poem and that was the end of that.

All this time I was forcibly made to attend a school and get “educated”. My dream all throughout high school was to be the richest man on earth. The only imaginative and sound part of the dream being that I would not raise my little finger to achieve this feat! Let me put it this way... "My belief in lotteries was rather high during this period".

Here, I would also like to borrow from Larry’s (second richest man on earth) speech to Harvard graduates. It seems that there is no graduate in living memory who has made it to the top ten richest people in the world. All of that exclusive club having come from school dropouts! Now that was one thing that they didn’t teach me at school!

Later, experts found out that education actually reduces your imagination and risk taking power. Must be true, coz the higher I went in high school the lesser I dreamt about being something. I hate experts who give this kind of information rather late. It is like telling a career smoker at the end of that fiery career that science has found you just fired your lungs!

To swim with the tide is easy. Nobody, even my arch enemies have ever alleged that I was a hard working, motivated and or driven guy. But I did make a whimper or two, regarding my career choices. I half heartedly decided to do commerce which was whole heartedly rejected by my father. The general population was doing engineering and that was what I was also supposed to do! And I did…:(

The old and now dying scientist career thingy got a fillip during my engineering days. Especially, when I was doing my project and later while trying for my masters.

For most of my engineering though (other than for those pathetic “scientific” interludes) I dreamt of being a drug pusher/drug lord. As I saw it, society was far too melancholic and suicidal. Drugs were the new coming thing. I even did some market study and found out that this segment had the steepest supply demand curves! There was huge demand and no supply. It was a guaranteed run away success. And anyways, I was a sucker for curves! This dream is however rather long lived compared to my other dreams. I still have it you know.

Then one day I read Paulo Coelho. This book is all about following your dream, about your destiny and being one with the world and all that crap. If I do meet Mr. Paulo Coelho, I will definitely ask him about this drug lord thingy. But till then, general society is as usual playing spoil sport with my ambitions and destiny and believe me, I got no beginners luck here either!

Last rites to my chef dream was given during my initial bachelor days when I had to do the dishwashing after the cooking. Male dominance is the way to go here I guess. After this experience, I have taken my own advice to marry a typical Indian girl who will do the dishwashing.

These days I wonder whether Charles Dickens had a similar life before he wrote the novel!

Monday, May 21, 2007

Life on a bench

adhikam aayaal amrithum visham
-Malayalam proverb meaning too much of anything is bad.

Every techie worth his salt would have spent at least some time on bench. To the uninitiated, IT companies do not have any "benches". Benching is the term used to signify that you are not in any project.

Usually this means that you get no back-breaking schedules. You do not need to attend totally useless meetings where somebody speaks and nobody listens. You don’t need to fill in your time sheet and most importantly nobody looks over your shoulder to see the “status” of the work.

A month on bench is considered ideal per year. It helps to rejuvenate body and soul. Renews your outlook on the industry and just about gets you raring to go for the next project.

Bench has its disadvantages too. Usually you don’t get a computer and free access to internet. Sometimes you don’t have a seat, let alone a bench! And under most circumstances you can only go to the library and re-read some crap magazine that you have already re-read twice. Sometimes I wonder whether this is somebody’s doing (The library thing you know). I have never been in a library for the whole duration of my college days and now with nothing to study and no notes to make, I suddenly find myself in the library more and more!

An even better situation is when you are in a project and still do not have anything to do. To achieve this “perfect” state you need to do some real good deeds all along your many incarnations. In this situation you enjoy all the benefits of “benching” while you suffer none of its ill effects. I must have been one real nice guy in my previous incarnation coz, I find myself in this very pleasurable situation currently.

The pictures pasted below should give you a rather reasonable idea about what we are up to in these days of peace and quiet.

Problem is that even this “perfect” state can get to your nerves after about 3 months of doing nothing.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

A pat on the head

"The army marches on its...."

Give the guy a tough trek, a long journey, no rest and hardly any sleep. He hardly murmurs a word. But to this concoction you add bad food. Well, now you are asking for trouble! This particular guy sits below my chest and above my hip and in the past he has been responsible for many a dozen pains (most of them fraud, I was an expert at using him as a blatant anti-literacy weapon).

Anyways, the above mentioned combination of evils happened to me this past weekend on a trek to Mukhruthi, near Ooty. I am really not sure where exactly I got this minor case of food poisoning, but the effects started from Sunday evening.

It was Anoop who was first deduced with the symptoms. I pitied the poor chap. He was throwing up and acting funny. I gave him a sort of pep talk and bundled him into the cab. Our destination was Coimbatore which was a 3 hour drive from Ooty.

Poor foolish me. I was just getting proud at how good a constitution I had, when I was duly put in place with that good old feeling to throw up. Now me being a veteran at throwing up, I was not so perturbed. But things got bad when I did not throw up and the ill-feeling refused to go away.

Half way through I had enough of it and decided the old epicurean "hand-in-throat" trick to throw up. It was only a minor success, for some reason I only vomited the water I had drunk ten minutes back.

By the time I reached Coimbatore, I had a slight fever and body pain to add to the queasy feeling. Mind you, when you are together in misery, it is not all that bad. Every one else in the four member team was feeling much the same. I had initially planned to travel from Coimbatore to Bangalore on the very same day (I didn’t need no doctor to tell me how dumb an idea that was) Anyways we hit the sack and slept peacefully.

The next day, I was still weak and did not feel like eating. The silver lining was, I did not feel like throwing up either. Being a firm believer that reaching home is one of the best remedies for most illness, I decided to get a ticket to Bangalore and scoot out fast.

My train was at 2:30 P.M and my friend's at 12:30 P.M. As far as I have heard, nobody ever gave Indian Railways an award for punctuality. Fortunately the trains were only half an hour late. By this time, I was feeling really weak and a bit alone since my friends had left.

Presently, the train came and very luckily for me there was no rush. I was able to stretch out as much as you can stretch out on 3 seats. Thanking the creator, I lied down and fell asleep. But it was too good to last. The lack of food and the terrible heat got to me and in a short time I was wriggling around, irritable and weak.

On top of it all, I felt a bit scared because I was alone. What if I fainted? (I have never fainted so I couldn’t say how bad that was). I was already feeling dizzy and the extremities of my body felt a tad funny as if the blood was not reaching there.

To shut out these negative feelings I shut my eyes. Almost as soon as I shut it, I heard a female voice above me. I opened my eyes as saw this 18-20? Year old girl in a rather neat but simple churidhar standing beside me, hands out stretched. I didn’t get it. She did not look like a beggar. She was far too well dressed for that. Then from the corner of my eye I noticed another "girl". I had noticed this same "girl" on the platform and was in doubt whether it was a he or a she or a eunuch. But the one standing over me definitely looked female.

As my thoughts raced, she stretched out her hand again and said "help me brother". I was in no condition to speak or I would have replied "help me sister". Instead I shook my head to mean negative. I did not feel like giving her anything. Even if I did feel, I was in no condition to take out my purse from my jeans pocket.

I closed my eyes as if in dismissal and then re-opened them to see if she had gone. She hadn't! So I shook my head again and I guess it must have been a pretty pathetic shake because she did not leave but just kept looking at me again. I again did the "eye-closing-dismissal" sequence and this time I kept it shut.

What came next really surprised me. She gave me a pat on the head, the kind you give kids by ruffling the hair. I don't know clearly how to explain my feeling. Somehow my loneliness vanished. Here was a complete stranger (and whom I had refused to help) giving me support in her own small way. The world may be bad and going down the drain as per the news papers. But in moments like this I feel that there is so much good in it too.

I felt like getting up and paying her, just for the gesture. Somehow the idea felt a bit crude and on top of it my soul, saintly as it was, was stuck up with a non co-operative body. So I didn’t move a muscle. But from then on I steadily felt better. Guess most of my queasiness was psychological rather than bodily. Though I did not feel like eating, I forced myself to eat a bit of bread-cake bought at Coimbatore. Later, I had a cup of tomato soup, which really energized me. I reached safely and by then was feeling ok enough to eat even the cold, hard and tasteless dosa at my place.

To the girl in the train: I am sure that we will never meet again. I am also sure that you will never see this blog. But just in case you do… know this… “I am so very thankful to you!”

Thursday, May 10, 2007

The Hutch connection

Moving out of a house is hard work. Doing it twice in two months is stupid, and doing it for the wrong reasons is plain insanity. Guess you can call me insane now!

The rent was 10k. There were six girls in the house below us and a ladies hostel right across the street. A three bedroom flat, lots of space, 7 guys and loads of fun. No, I am not explaining about paradise, I was just telling you about our house.

Eons back some pessimist remarked "Good things do not last". Problem is that the words were prophetic. At the end of our first year in this dream home, our owner (an a****** first degree) ups the rent to 12.5k. Owing to the dramatic change in rate realties, we decided to hold a full house meeting to sort out the next plan of action. Its a bit tough to get the full house, with 3 going for night shift, one(read me) going for any shift and the rest in day time. In the first round of talks, held with only half the participants, it was decided to follow the India Pakistan route and set a date for the next meeting so that everyone could participate rather than actually fix any issue.

Thus it was a Saturday night that we held our full general body meeting. To improve participation and to reach a sufficiently colorful plan of action it was decided to drink half a bottle of Johnnie walker before we started off. I will not get into the details of the debate. Just let me put it this way, it was in "high spirits". 4 out 7 including me, wanted to stay on paying the extra rent and 3 wanted to move on to greener pastures. In the end it was decided that we would move on. This stupendous result was achieved by the green pastures team by pouring more spirits down the opposing throats and with some backend handholding diplomacy.

The leader of the green pastures team, Mr.Prasanth Rajan a.k.a lolan agreed to scout for a new house and get things rolling. In a short time and with determined effort he found out a new house which as per him was "perfect". It was a big house in a good locality with a "colorful" environment and a rent of 10k. The owner as I earlier remarked was a big time a****** and he asked us 12k for the painting and other work on the house. We were caught in a cul-de-sac where he had our advance money, new owner needed our advance money and he wouldn’t give us our advance money without deducting the painting charges. Anyways in the end we paid the hefty sum, cursed him to his face that we hoped he lose ten times that amount and left for the new house.

The day of shifting saw half the populace going to native, one caught in office due to a production issue and three stupid guys, including yours truly, left to do the manual labor. It was a tough job, especially since there was no lift and we had to carry our beds and cots down the steps. But then I did not grumble much, my body was getting some much needed exercise and this process need not be repeated for quite some time. At least that was what I thought.

The new house was ok, it was not paradise but definitely livable. Thus I was taken completely by surprise and indignation when lolan said he wanted to shift again!!! The reason became clear very soon. It was his hutch connection. He did not get the connection in his bedroom. He would not listen to pleas of "change your connection" or "just put your mobile in the living room". The reader would have assumed by now, that this guy has a grilfriend(s) and he wants to chat in peace in his bedroom. Sorry, you are soooo wrong. The only people this crummy guy chats with are his parents!

"I have decided to move out alone" he said. We had studied in the same college. We had known each other and lived together for about 8 years by now. We were not going to let him move out alone, even if he wanted it!! For the next one month he was the butt of our jokes. For even the smallest of issues we would cry out "I had enough, I am moving out alone". But this joke attack did not cure him. He found fault with everything in the house from the ventilation to the occasional spider. One day there was no water and he took it up as a major issue. In the end we had to bow down before his whim and agree for a change lest he actually carry out his threat. But all of us declined to check for another house, and I personally declined to move any of the stuff. I would just come and live in the new house I said.

Lolan did the house hunting but he was not so successful this time. In fact he got so frustrated by the middle of the month that he was again considering moving out alone. In the end he got hold of one house, but then our owner now demanded 6 months advance for vacating earlier than 11 months. Lolan spent another 10 days cursing the owner and generally building up a high blood pressure. In then end we lend him a hand and got some new guys for our house. These new guys gave advance to the owner and we persuaded him to give back ours, which he thankfully did.

The day of the second moving was no different from the first. Again half the populace was at native and the rest at office. To make matters worse the new house was two storeys up. I had promised not to lift even my little finger for shifting into the next house. But I was moved by sympathy for lolan who had been having one tough month and decided to pitch in anyways.

The new house is small, and there is hardly any space for all of us. Most importantly it has only one bathroom (for 7 of us!) and on most days we don’t have any water!! But of course I forgot about the hutch connection. The hutch signal is strong at all points in our home, the bedrooms, the hall, the kitchen and even the bathroom. So then who cares, right!!!

Monday, May 7, 2007

Britto Bosco and Berchman

"Ammae my house the Britto’s have won the overall sports championship at school today" shouted my ecstatic brother as he threw his bag on to the sofa.

That was the first time I heard of Britto’s. My brother must have been in 3rd standard and yours truly in the 1st. The information sounded a bit foggy to me. Moreover I was in the "Who? What? Why?" stage of my developmental age so I barged in and asked Amma "what is Britto’s Ammae?". But big brother wanted to finish his story first. So he gave me the "round eye treatment" and hogged the rest of the conversation.

He raved about his house captain who ran so fast for the 100 mts race that there was a dust cloud behind him and the other contestants were blinded! By now I had quite a lot of "what’s " accumulated. What is a house? What is Britto’s? What is 100 meters? . But having got the round eye treatment once, I decided, very wisely, to wait for him to finish.

In between mouthfuls of some tea-time goody he explained in fine detail the main events of the day. I was left in awe of the all conquering Britto’s by the end of it. "Ammae, can I also become a Britto?" I asked. "No monae, you need to be in 3rd standard for that". oooh third standard! But third standard is so long away! I was sorely disappointed. The injustices of being a child were becoming too much to bear these days. I just wanted to grow up fast and be in third standard ASAP. That’s where all the action was.

The years passed in quick succession and in no time I was at the threshold of becoming a big man. "kettikaraya kuttiyayi!"(You are of marry-able age!) exclaimed my mother as she put the buckle on my knickers and upped the zip. I was going to third standard now. My classes would be in a new building where all the older boys studied. I looked into the mirror on our Godrej almirah and felt proud of being as big as I was.

By this time, Britto's house had raked in one more sports championship. "In the past 8(?) years, nobody has beaten Britto's" claimed my brother. To the post Harry Porter reader Britto’s would definitely be Gryffindor. Even in my mellow age, I had enough common sense to pick out the winner. I am going to be a Britto I decided. But how do I become one? I raised this crucial q to my big bro. "you don't even know that!" exclaimed my big bro with a condescending expression. I didn’t like the expression one bit. But being very diplomatic, I decided to get that extremely important piece of information through the higher-up route. "Ammae, Antony is making fun of me" I wailed. Big bro is also diplomatic. After all, diplomacy runs in the family. He grudgingly gave up that highly guarded secret and settled an issue that could have snowballed into World war III. I thanked my stars for having such a reasonable brother.

The process it seemed was pretty simple. It was all based on a tie. The color of the tie you got while buying books for third standard decided your fate! Thus the reader would thoroughly understand my disappointment when the teacher gave me an orange tie instead of green. I might be of tender age, but I was also an Indian to boot. I knew that there would definitely be a way around the system. Ah! I will ask for a replacement tie, I decided. But the queue was a kilometer long and Amma flatly refused to stand again. The Supreme Court had overruled my petition!!! I was down but definitely not out. There had to be some other way I thought and Eureka!!! My brother had sketch pens, if I could paint green color over the tie then that should do the trick. Congratulating myself, I decided to reach home and get things rolling.

Along with this generous gift of grey matter that the reader would have noticed by now, I was also gifted with a lot of procrastination and a little bit of "yellow" blood by the Guy up there. In short, I could not gather the guts to pull off the crime. In the end I decided that when the teacher asked me in class what house you belong to, I would say Britto's. Very few plans are fool proof, even fewer will hold under treachery. Mine failed because of both I guess. The guy next to me smugly pointed out the tie conspiracy to my teacher when I shouted out "Britto". I had forgotten that the tie was very much around my neck at that time. Anyways, I managed to talk out of that one. Made it look like a discrepancy rather than a conspiracy. A narrow escape!

This is the story of how I became a Bosco instead of a Britto.

But lady luck had not deserted me all together. The Bosco house won three times in a row right after I joined it. I may not have run, I may not have jumped, but I did cheer my team like there was no tomorrow and because of all my cheering our house just couldn’t get a step wrong. I was in the sixth and a mature man who could take a defeat gracefully by the time we first slunk to second. I had a period of immaturity in seventh and eight standards when we won again.

In the 9th I decided to act more mature. And what's more, I even joined in the sporting events. I participated in two events and finished second last in both cases. But then, since I was mature and since I had heard that participation is more important than winning, I took the blows very casually. Taking a cue from me my house also finished second last.

10th as is well known to any kid who has studied in Kerala, is a draconian year with pressure from all sides. Studies take up paramount importance, so who cared that we lost again. After all it was the marks that counted that year!

All said and done, I am very happy that I was not put into Berchman. They were third 7 out of 8 times!

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Bed lice! but what are they doing in a Bus?

The Past
Mosquitoes bite me, snakes give me the horrors and pests in general pester me a lot. But I reserve my hatred for the bed lice as my principal enemy no: 1.

To escape from mosquitoes, I do not use any repellants. I just go to Melvin’s (my friend)side. Mosquitoes and him, they have a special bond. With his 110kg 6ft2 inch body and gulf blood, they idolize him over any skinny country fellows nearby.

To escape from the occasional snake that comes my way, I run as fast as my legs can carry me.

But I am to bed lice what mosquitoes are to Melvin. They just seek me out. They bleed me dry and if I am in a 10 kilometer radius, rest is assured, you are safe from bed lice attacks! I got familiar with them since the day they bit me when I must have been all of 5 years old. It was when I was watching a Mohanlal (famous Malayalam actor) flick. While the great man was delivering his blood curdling dialogues in a B-class palm thatched theatre, I was delivering my blood to that most abominable of God's creations.

However it was not till I came searching for a job in Bangalore that these guys started giving me hell. The room that we had rented had them by the thousands. The going was so bad that at times I used to sleep in the morning in sunlight (they can’t stand sunlight) instead of at night. Other tactics included pulling two chairs together and sleeping on them. But even the chairs provided very little protection after about half an hour. By which time the whole lice populace would have smelled me out.

All the available "high-end" technology can do nothing to exterminate these guys, you spray them, you squash them, you burn them… nothing helps. They just keep coming back. Pests are the best biological systems invented by Mother Nature I guess. They can endure ANYTHING and come out biting.

Once we got jobs, we shifted our place of stay to better locales. The lice did some piggybacking and arrived alongside. But through some judicious "sunning of our bedding" and burning of our valuable books infested with their eggs we were able to wage successful war on them. Of course you can’t win, but then they are now nothing more than a minor nuisance.

The Present
Thus I was relishing a lice free life once again when I decided to go home for a short stint. I had to attend some "tie-the-knot" ceremonies that my cousins are so rampantly up to these days. As I sat in the bus (Kallada travels), I felt that very familiar itch on my right arm. I caught the culprit and squashed him. Next I felt an itch in my back, this time however the perpetrator escaped into the cushions before the squashing ceremony. I was seriously un-nerved. This was just the beginning, that whole journey was one biting fiasco. I remember being awake till about 4 A.M in the morning. I must have slept off after that due to utter exhaustion. I thought that this was a one off experience that would not repeat. Yeah, people tell me that I have case of "clinical optimism". These days, while traveling between Bangalore and Kerala, I, the pseudo atheist and religion hater chant out incantations to all possible pests-related-Gods to save me from these guys.

But ever since the flick "the Gods must be crazy" I guess all's not so well in up-up land and rarely are my prayers answered. I read numerous blogs on pest related violence in Kerala-Bangalore buses. There was one pathetic one about a mother who had to sit up for the whole night in a sleeper bus and kill them so that they wouldn’t bite her 1-year old. If the reader has a grudge against someone, don’t go about hiring “Goondas” to beat him up. Just buy him a ticket to Bangalore. You get your revenge, cheap and sure, no goof ups involved.

The future
I was watching "Blade" an exceptionally dumb special affects crammed English flick about vampires and other God forsaken creatures. I was about to doze off, when the lead makes this stupendous revelation. He is a vampire who is sunlight resistant. This proves that the Gods are not as crazy as some Hollywood script writers! I really hope that the lice don't become sunlight resistant!

Right now I am in the mood to become a Zoroastrian. Sun rules!!!!