Summer vacations during our school years meant lots of time and energy, on me & my bro’s hands. This used to be directly proportional to our Mom’s CQ (crankiness quotient). We stayed out of her way by ably channelizing our restless energies through countless hours of cricketing action.

During our 7 – 8 odd hours-a-day cricketing schedule, discounting loss in time between deciding the teams, fights, retrieving ball from the gutters & thorny vegetation, injuries, claims of cheating, losing the ball, identifying whose fault it was, more fights, getting contributions for the money to buy the ball, deciding who will go buy the ball, water/loo breaks, reshuffling teams due to sudden loss of players in team midway due to idiotic strict parents etc. etc., we managed to get around 1 to 2 hours of decent cricket. This was still more than the average, considering we didn’t have to account for time loss by running away after breaking tube-lights and window panes. Since we stayed at a company quarters, broken window panes were paid for by Dad’s company itself! Not that it accounted for much, but our talents thus were never bottled and we ended up playing hours and hours of unperturbed, unrestricted, bindaas ‘baap- ka- raaj- hain’ types cricket!

Due to all this, by the end of such momentous days’, we were usually super tired & thirsty, like … dogs in a desert! (I know. Sucky analogy. Replace with your fave animal, correlate & move on.)

Bro & I would usually find ‘it’ during our what-did-you-bring-for -us ransack ops, post our parents’ grocery shopping sprees, back at home, in the evening. As would be expected, sometime during the first week of the holidays, Mom would do the honors of getting it. And as soon as she would see that we have had visual and have locked on to it, she would yell, “NOT NOW! I am not making it now! Wait until tomorrow” The tribal dances all over India would start getting displayed by me and my bro, in an anxious bid to get our Mom to immediately make it. ‘It’ being our favorite summer drink – Rasna!

The making of the soft-drink concentrate, used to be nothing short of a ritual in itself. Mom would have finally buckled under our unremitting and undeniable ‘charms’ and begin the preparatory procedures. Knowing that we two will be playing a major hand in this operation, she will spread a few newspapers on the kitchen floor and make us sit cross-legged beside it. Then she would bring our biggest utensil and place it in the centre. The Rasna Orange & Lemon (occasionally Mango) pack would then be officially brought forth.

The packs would contain a powder sachet & a cute little vial with a red plastic cap, filled with a liquid. We used to have a collection of those little glass bottles. The instructions on the pack were then read out again, even though we knew it more thoroughly than our History & Geography chapters. The powder, the liquid, sugar and water mixes to create a heady aroma that made you literally want to dive in. After all this is done, mom would give us a ladle to stir on till the sugar dissolves. This was an awesome moment, as we used to stir away to glory with who-can-stir-the-fastest- without-spilling contests etc. More than once, the newspapers would come in handy!

I Love You Rasna :)
The concentrate would eventually get made, and we then mega pester our mom to give it us in tumblers made of glass (exactly as depicted in the commercial) after making a thousand promises, to be very careful & not to break it. As soon as she obliges and gives us Rasna with floating ice cubes, our next brotherly contest of ‘who drinks the slowest, so that once the other guy finishes, I can smugly continue drinking’ would begin. After some point, with all the ice gone, we would be drinking super diluted stuff, but the contests were  taken very very seriously.

Now, the real reason for writing this blog post, was a fond recollection that our Uncle (Dad’s cousin bro) told us, when we had visited him recently. He was reminiscing the times he had spent with us when we were little kids, and all the troubles we gave him. This once, Mom and Dad were down with a terrible bout of chicken pox. The task of looking after both of us fledglings had come down onto my Uncle. He used to run a tight ship, I remember vaguely, and after a super long hard day’s work the last thing that he really wanted to do was be in the company of a 6 year old and another 3 year old. We two would have done little to help him with anything, during the course of the day. It was an age when we used to bawl and howl to get our ways, and that would probably be what he would walk into immediately after his arduous train journey at the end of his tiring work routine, on a regular basis. But we were kids, and we used to do that without an iota of sympathy. I think it was my Uncle who probably prayed the hardest for my parents’ quick recovery at that point in time.

So then, my uncle’s most memorable recollection through all of this, were of the moments when he would be in the frenzy of conjuring up the dinner for all of us, and my li’l bro will time this to poke his tiny head from the side of the kitchen door and howl away, till he got … Rasnam!!! (Ahahahaha! Mallufication Alert!). As my bro’s case was being taken royally over ‘Rasnam’, Icouldn’t help but agree that Rasna was indeed a part of our growing up!

Unfortunately, it is when I look-back upon the beauty of small moments in life like these, that I feel that change has not always been kind. 🙂

As had been oracle-ized in the previous post, BatMon started begging Murugan to make him cool & powerful! He begged, he super-begged and he ultra mega begged. Murugan had said yes to him at the drop of the first beg & peg, but BatMon persisted just to show-off his persistence power.

Proof: Once his ‘then alive’ Peppa casually bet Clijju (alter ego BatMon) that he can’t pee more than 4 meters.  Clijju, then aged 5, put himself on a no pee, only beer diet for 3 continuous days and went on to define what is now known as the Gautham City’s legendary CLOP (Clijju’s Line Of Persistence) Street.

Murugan: (waking BatMon from his reverie)  “What every superhero needs, is a secret base, from where he can control his operations! And since there are not many caves in Goutham city, I found an old empty well instead. From today it will be known as Bat-Well! Remember, everything that we use from now on… should have the prefix ‘Bat’. It’s all about branding. ”

BatMon: “Bat Why? I mean but why?”

Murugan: “Bat Fact # 32 – You are black, your clothing is black & you go into the black night to hunt villains. If you don’t do branding people will accredit it all to – The Invisible Mon, you bat-head!!!”

BatMon: “Bat-point taken!”

Murugan: “Come now, follow me, I will show you your Bat-gears!”

BatMon: “Yep brb (bat right back), I will see you on the dark side of the Bat-Well soon. I need to pick the black lungis and the black banians that I gave to Chinnu-mol, for washing.”

Murugan: “BatMon, remember, NO ONE should know of our secret location!”

BatMOn: “NOW YOU TELL ME, YOU OLD FOOL… I just Bat-Twittered ‘New Hideout found, Hide-out warming party on Bat Sat Nite! Bat-RT Plz!”

Murugan: “YOU RAT-BRAINED-BAT, NO more communications, of any form, from outside the Bat-Well.

BatMon: “ Fine! Fine! Bat Off now!”

When BatMon returned to Bat-Well…. what lay in front of him, blew his head off.


Bat-Gears

1> The Bat-Suit: The Bat-Suit consisted of 3 parts: Bat-Mask, Bat-Vest & the Bat-Mundu! The difference was that, these were now reinforced with sun-dried coconut shells, flattened out and coated with termite protection & doubly-layered  titanium coated razor blades. Cutting-edge technology on show!

2> The Bat-Mobile: The biggest goof-up in the history of comics, was rectified by Murugan, by ensuring that Bat-mobile now actually is a Mobile! He had assembled the strongest cell-phone ever customized in history, by using sun-dried coconut shells, flattened out and coated with termite protection & doubly-layered titanium coated razor blade and putting it on top of a Bat-Nokia 3310. Edge technology again!

3> The BAtlas Cycle: This was a customized version of Clijju’s Peppa’s  bicycle fitted with the blaring horn of the local idli-seller Rajappan. The master craftsman, that Murugan was, did the modification in less than 30 seconds! As Murugan proclaimed with tears in his eyes, “ And this BatMon, is my greatest creation! This is your BAtlas Cycle my boy, with a new SONAR Blaster horn. Now your pimped up ride is eco-friendly as well as echo-friendly! “

Batlas Cycle

4> The Batli-lityBelt: Batmon’s utility belt, consisted of discarded little Parachute and Ujala bottles( which makes up for 41.45% of refuse in Mallu houeholds) painted black and filled with all possible liquids, that could help him. Beer & vodka shots, HCL & sulphuric acid, Snake Venom & anti venom, Chloroform & Styrofoam everything…  Coconut Oil?– Obviously! Due to some initial start-up trouble and forgetting which bottle contains what, Batmon now has a Bat shaped hole in his trachea.

5> The Batter – Rangs/Hooks: This was another collab between Idli vendor Rajappan & Murugan. All the unsold idilies*(which practically accounted for all idlies made), were purchased by Murugan and after cutting up into little bat shapes, they were allowed to remain overnight. They automatically turned titanium hard. Now this solved the problems over stake outs  & stealth missions alike. Batmon could use it as a hook to grapple or throw as a boomerang  as well and munch on it over long hungry nights. Murugan who was a knowledgeable man got inspired to make this, on remembering the famous (Movie-)Mughal Emperor Nasir-ud-din Shah famous words of wisdom:  Thoda Khaaneka, Thoda Fekneka….

BatMon quickly got himself into the gears and cycled his way laboriously into the dark inky night! Alfie & Murugan wiped away their tears, and drank to his health.

Does BatMon’s suit hold up? Did Chinnumol do a good job at washing? How much did Alfie & Murugan drink that night? Tune in next time. Same BatSite. Same BatURL!

*Unsold Idlies: In Kerala, every house at any point in time, has more idlies than house-flies, per square meter, [as per the WHO & FDA joint census venture 2008]. So an idli vendor in Kerala is considered the lowest order degenerate whose skill is secondary to that of the lazy local 3 footed, one eyed, half-eared mongrel. No mongrelian feelings were meant to be harmed while framing the above statement.

—————————————————————————————————————————————————————————
Next Episode:

Batmon finds a fiery adversary.  As to every ‘Ying’, there is a ‘Yang’. Similarly as to every ‘Ping’, there is a ‘Pong’. Similarly, as to every ‘Batmon’ there is a ……  ‘JOGGER’! What happens in a face-off when Batmon’s black face, comes face to face, with The Jogger’s white face.  The Rising Of  The Jogger!

Very Very Bat Joke:

Q: Where does Batmon keep all his money?

A: In his Bat-wa  😛

( Pic Courtesy: Thakkar & Burk )

BatMon was still learning. After the proclamation to serve Goutham City in his previous blogpost , there was not much ground that he had covered (and he was feeling rather stupid for taking the oath as well. But the damage was already done). He had taken many a wrong steps & as a matter of fact, one particular one had given him a swollen ankle.

But ever determined to succeed and to do his part right, like all good superheroes, he tried to be helpful. To know more on this, he did some web research. Spidey promptly sued him for unauthorized access into his domain. Alfie, BatMon’s Manager, got that one artbitrated over a round of desi and appams.

BatMon’s second attempt on being the harbinger of surprises and happiness was doubly dhamaakedaar. He looked up and searched as to which super hero or superhero like figure was looked at with much respect and love. He tried to emulate being the black version of the red guy, and started dropping alcohol bottles down the chimneys of the neighbourhood houses, at the stroke of the midnight hour.

There is still a serial arsonist case pending at Goutham City police Station, against the 10 houses that were burnt to cinders by a masked marauder.

As the wipmy BatMon cried into the night, yet again, as on every other night, he met him.

Silhouette Person: “Yo Mon BatMon, ssup dawg!”

BatMon: “You got the wrong animal Pa … bugger off”

SP: “Come now … I am not here to preach. I am here to help you … the name’s Murugan!”

BM: “Right … and what do you do?”

M: “Me … Nothing! I am just a free man!”

BM: “So what does that make you?”

M: “Murugan Freeman”

BM: “Right … I have heard of you. I always thought you were a voice over!”

MF: “On most days yes … but for you, as of today, I am your in house tech expert. I come to you, with years and years of texperience to boast off. Any Mallu super cool stuff, you name it … I made it.

Slip-on elastic lungies to waterproof anti-rain undies. Diet Coco to Microwave Payasam to Moustache curlers to Paper Dosa 2.0! ”

BM: ” WTF is Paper Dosa 2.0 ?”

MF: ” You get an actual paper with all the Masala to read along while you eat? Aint it neat?”

BM:”Hmmm … but why do you want to help me?”

MF: ” I owe almost all of my success to your father. As a kid I was young … ”

BM: “Would have never guessed!”

MF: ” … and heady! After discovering the slip-on lungi, my name had spread far and wide… in Goutham city. And I started looking down on people. One day, I drank too much and started abusing your father, and I laughed off Alfie’s coconut-flavored-groundnut-brandy-with-sparkling-banana chips AlfieQ. Your father couldn’t stand me disgracing his dear friend & had thrown a challenge, as to who will find the solution to Kerala’s biggest problem, faced by 80% of Mallus all over Juhu- Chowpatty and other beaches – Cutting the Coconut to drink the water within!”

BM:  * Snore… Snore…ZZZZzzzzz!*

MF:”… we were to meet exactly one year later and demonstrate out skills.

Using all the money I earned from the patents, I reached Shaolin, a mountaineous village just off Palakkad, and learnt the “7-slash polyhedral-coconut-break-technique”

And on the D-day, I reached over to your father’s house. I called him names, and got all the villagers together, hell bent on disgracing your family name. Knowing that I would totally kill it,  I displayed my awesumness technique, for which I spent all my fortunes and trained like crazy for a year.

* Batmon groggily wakes up, rolls over to a nearby tree, waters it, rolls back to sleep *

MF: “After my powerfully powerful show of strength I was expecting a jaw transplant for your Pappa, supposed to be caused due it crashing into the floor … but … your Father didn’t even blink an eye. He smiled. He took his coconut and in one neat move, ran a handy power-drill through it, put a straw in and drunk it smugly!  The villagers clapped.  A battery operated handy power drill… that was it … the solution to a million Malayali coconut vendors over the world. Oh and how they rejoiced! Coconut husks thrown skywards in celebration, blocked out the sun!

Your Pappa had never even left his shop and had quadrupled his earnings. He only spent Rs.1999.99 on Item code:  B@TP0P from Tele Shopping Network. My aerodynamic wind tunnel tested HattoriKuttan Hanzo Ammaman’s sword alone had cost me 50 times as much. No cable in Shaolin … so no TSN, otherwise perhaps the story could have been different. But that’s destiny!

He taught me an important lesson that day…

BatMon: * muttering in sleep* “Mmmm Batgirl… Mmmmm. Who Pappa whoooo. Yeah baby…. Yes Batterram Bam Bam!”

MF:”Even a perfect thing, can still be perfected. He taught me that! Now, the right time is afoot and I shall pass on the legacy to…  Oh you are asleep! I never noticed … perhaps another time!”

* to himself aloud * “Wow he has made a Bat Tent with his cape … but, sadly it only covers his waist! I will have to optimize it. All in good time! Sleep Batmon, Mon Ami, Sleep! May Your Bat Hood always come to your rescue ! (He meant the mask you twisted creeps!)”

What happens to BatMon? How does Murugan help him find his destiny? Was Batgirl truly satisfied …. for all this tune … no may be not the last question… but for the rest, tune in next time. Same BatSite. same BatURL!

————————————————————————————————————-

Next Episode:

BatMon Beggings!

BatMon begs Murugan to make him cool! And cool he gets with gadgets and new equipments! Murugan at his best!

Note:  BatMon & Batcove episode was censored by the board, as scientists out there seems to be a continued argument regarding the Batting positions. Also the board felt that as an author I was turning on the heat too early, for cheap publicity! Such batty creatures …

Very Very Bat Joke:

Q: Hey Batmon, you and Robin attended the same courses in college?

A: No, different courses, but he was my Bat-mate  😛

It was a near perfect evening & I was happy with the way it all turned out!

The plan was a last minute one, and hence with all the last minute action, I reached the Churchgate station 15 minutes earlier than the scheduled ETA of my friend, Thakkar-san. This gave me just about enough time, to do a quick drop in and have a short tête-à-tête with the wind, the sea & the shimmering sun.

:)

The talk was short. But yet again, as on numerous occasions before, I stood there, humbled, by the sheer magnitude. All my doubts and worries seemed totally insignificant in its wake. The sun shined away as if to re-energize me & the wind gave me a smile.

Next Stop – Tea Centre. T-san was his usual ‘XXL bundle of exuberance’ self. As we got seated, it didn’t take him long to espy a small bell on the table, which when tinkled, made a waiter apparate alongside our table. Let’s just say, that the bell was tinkled more than once, and not always the right guy turned up in answer. This one time, a waiter dropped by, with the message that the right guy will show up at the table soon. It was as if you rubbed the magic lamp, and an imp turned up instead, as a proxy, with the message that the genie would soon be there to grant you the wishes.

The tea ( rather teas ) were awesome. Being our 1st time, we ordered a pot of tea for each us. Pots of Ginger Lemon Green Tea, Blood Orange Tea & a Darjeeling Full Leaf Tea, made their appearance wafting through in divine fragrance. As expected, there was a lot of tea… and we overdrank (supposed to be like overeat… but instead you drink). I wondered if that was what being liquidated felt like. We had some Khopoli wadas to go with it, and guess they bobbed around in our tummies, like apples/tomatoes thrown into a lake! Later as we waddled our way out, little waves of tea, struck the shores of our stomachs. We were high & smiling away.

Expectations & predicament alike, ensured that we were well before the appointed time to see Manav Kaul’s next – Park. Have caught up on all of his previous works, T-san & I, were really eager, as to what would unfurl in front of us, and whether the travel from one end of Mumbai to the other was worth it. The teas were doing little to rope in the enthu. Our panic was over the free seating for the show. It was a new venue for us, and the people who have been there said, there was limited seating. As expected, a decent crowd had built up by the time the play was about to start. As soon as the entry started, people ran to get the very best seats.

Now, T-san, as he arrived, got the chance to sit beside two cute girls. Ever the gentleman, he asked their permission to sit beside them, and of course they acknowledged. As T-san sat, his mega-ness instantly made the bench sink about 5 cms into the soft park ground. The girls giggled, as T-san grinned that grin he grins. Had he sat longer… in some time, it was sure that the girls would have slid into him. But then he made the ‘instantly regretted’ decision of sitting on the ground, closer to the performance area. [If either of you girls comes across this post & recall this incident… T-san is one of the nicest guys on earth!]

The play was beautiful. Manav Kaul & Kumud Mishra had done it again. Simple & elegantly done, and thought provoking at that. The setting and the ambience provided to the play, by the natural surrounds of Horniman Circle, added to its beauty greatly.

As the play finished, I was left wondering whether ‘Theatre’ was the only form of visual entertainment that had any sense of sincerity left.

Highly recommended – Park, lots of tea & a short stop by the sea.

2008 was musical, very much so. And it was natural that 2009 had a lot of expectations to meet with. After my first concert of this year, I am still very perplexed as to how I should go about trying to make the whole experience sink in, and to classify whether it was a good or a bad experience, to begin with.

It all started with my friend, calling me up one evening and enquiring whether I would be interested in attending the Dr. L. Subramaniam & Kavita Krishnamurthy concert featuring The Leipzig/Indian Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Dr. Micheal Koehler.  I cited two reasons for a probable backing out: 1> weekday  2> I had seen them perform before, sans the Orchestra for an earlier Pongal event. But my lovely friend allowed me the liberty to let me opt till the D-day and said would hold up the passes for me. When the moment of reckoning arrived, I found myself enthused to witness the performance all over again with an added philharmonic texture. I made the decision at 6 for the 7:30 concert, to do the rick+train+cab routine from one end of Mumbai to the other… all for my love for music.

I make it there by 7:30 pm sharp, after overestimating the road traffic, and underestimating the Indian Railways, which pretty much evened it up for me. I was halfway through my self-congratulatory jigeddy jig jig, when I was jolted into the reality, which had taken the shape of an unending human chain starting from the gates of Tata Theatre, all the way through the sea facing road, right to the Ticketing counter at the back of NCPA. A line for an NCPA event – never encountered even once, during the past 2.5 years of spending choice evenings here.

Considering it to be just another formality, I < like a good kid >, go and stand right at the end of the line, waiting for my friends, who were yet to arrive. As soon as they showed up, my friend began her complaining that had she known, she would have come earlier rather than indulge in her lazy evening timepass etc. etc. Her cribbing continued as the line moved languidly forth, with anxious eyes, constantly checking how far their feet were from the destination. We gave the event organizers the benefit of doubt, to the security measures in place for the concert, given that the Trident was but a small walk away.

Then the rumors started rearing their heads in slowly.  “The concert has already started”, said the guy in front to another. Hah! Elementary Mr. Watson, it was 8:15pm, they had might as well started it, if at all they were to get on with a show. But then the rumors started getting less funnier! The grapevine started suggesting that :
1>    People are breaking the queue and rushing from the entrance.  :O
2>    There were only 1000 seats and 2000 passes had been issued :O :O
3>    Only 100 more people will be allowed :O  :O  :O
4>    Fights have broken Out :O  :O  :O  :O

In the ensuing few minutes, there was much agitation in the crowd. The queue was deteriorating by the minute, with people rushing to the entrance to verify the hearsay and others who had old people & young kids in their fray, making an exit, shaking their heads and accepting them rumors on face value. Amidst all this, me and my two friends had reached the gate, and saw that the doors had indeed been closed and two frail security guards were being pummeled by a few hundreds of angry music enthusiasts. From where we were at, it looked like a scene straight out of one of that PG rated zombie classics. (No blood and shredded limbs. But screams, shrieks & other guttural sounds aplenty) The TOI/NCPA initiated logistical nightmare was in full bloom now. They had grossly underestimated both Mr. L Subramaniam and the audience alike, when it came to the number of people expected to turn up. The curious, the furious and the delirious were all beginning to take it out on the glass doors that separated the audience from the concert.

Then finally, a representative of TOI shows up. I recognized her from the previous wonderful concert experiences that she had organized for Pongal & Sufi nights. But the day was clearly not hers, as she built up on this folly by making a statement to all, which went, “Agar aap tameez se ik line banayenge toh hum sabko andar jaane denge!” That’s right, post the whole time-wasting, super painful campaign, what the already fuming audience needed was a lesson in public behavior. There was no apology, and she almost made it sound like it was entirely our fault. With 100-200 odd people still hanging on with an hour or so well into the concert, it wasn’t exactly the perfect time to do the ‘pehle aap’ routine. The jostling made some random people get between my friends and I, but still… a line gets made. Thick, breadth wise!

That’s when I suddenly realize, what I was experiencing was one of the strangest phenomenons ever! We were like a moshpit, in a classical Carnatic / Philharmonic / Fusion concert. Whoaa!!! Old grandpas, angry uncles & aunties, resolute youngsters, amused bachcha parties, in one big a state of elevated entropy. It was like a bloody I-Rock/Mood-I Livewire at NCPA! Then … COPS SHOW UP!  \m/

The cops do a swift job of thinning the line, right in the front. A fine demo of liposuction! I could tell some of the aunties were super impressed. Then, just like that, the doors open, and people begin to funnel in.

I make it inside. 🙂

They let two more people after me. They close the doors again. My friends don’t make it inside.

Now, my friends were the ones who were interested in attending this, right from the start, who coaxed me into this, got the passes arranged etc. It was suddenly as if we had swapped places. Nevertheless, I stood on this side waiting for them to restart allowing the people; they were just 3-4 people behind.  My friend calls from the other side and asks me to go on for the concert, and that they will find me in the auditorium. I almost get reprimanded by her, for hanging on. I shake my head in disbelief and I made my way towards the concert.

The audi was packed to the hilt. I sit on the stairs. In a matter of minutes, the Leipzig / Indian Philharmonic ensemble ended their routine. The MC makes an appearance and starts to say something on the lines of ‘brilliant precision and amazing co-ordination’. I felt it was something that the organizers from TOI & NCPA could most definitely take a cue from.

A 10 minute break was announced, and I quickly rush to check on my friends. The line had been cleared. A lone police van stood outside.

I call, I apologize, not knowing what else to say, got reprimanded again.. My friend told me that, after I went in, they didn’t allow anyone else. The crowd got agitated again. This time around the vans came in. They then went onto put one gentleman inside. This made the crowd angrier. They tried to reason, but to no avail. My friends left shortly after.

I had gone back in and found myself an unclaimed seat. I settled down for the concert – Part II

The Concert:
Kavita Krishnamurthy: Amazing voice, some parts she sang were brilliant. The overall performance was marred though slightly by her bad throat.

Seetha Krishnamurthy: About two years since I last saw her perform. Failed to impress, yet again.

Ambi Subramaniam: Clearly growing under his father’s guidance. Played the second fiddle, which was impressive in itself.

The Leipzig / Indian Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Dr. Koehler: Beautiful.  It made me realize that  not having listened to the first half, was a big miss.  On a different note, the women on the Leipzig Orchestra, they looked as beautiful, as they played!

Dr. L. Subramaniam: The appreciation for him, shone in the eyes of some of the Orchestra Members. You felt the sounds that his violin emanated.

The highlight for me was definitely the last piece – A carnatic classical piece played by a western classical Orchestra. Amazing experience.

Eitherways … TOI/NCPA surely made it a night to remember!

So… it ended on a good note?

I walk out of NCPA … and there is not a single taxi in sight! Apparently, some strike had been called for, in the interim! I groaned … and the ever so gentle sea breeze tousled my hair & tried to console me.

Some rocks wish to flow.
Some waters wish to stay still.
They journey through time, transform irrevocably & fulfill their desires.

And when you look at the blooming lotuses …
One can’t help but feel, that it was all worthwhile!

Me

A handful of people, SMS me without fail,
everytime Andaz Apna Apna gets telecast on TV.

Another friendly bunch, makes sure to let me know,
with every Floyd experience they have, wherever they be.

Sometimes it’s sunsets, lemon teas, brownies or medu-wadas,
that I get reminded of, whenever they happen to see.

Or the Bhurji nights at Coopers that I always get invited to,
In the inky, dark morning hours, wee.

Strange it may sound, are the things that people associate me with,
and strange I guess it always will be.

But hey, who’s complaining, ’cause it’s super heartening,
that one way or the other, someone or the other always remember me!

The Place:

It all started in the small village in Kerala, 12-odd kilometers north of Thrissur and to the south of Jammu, called Gouthamanapuram. But the encroaching developments had transformed the face of this teeny little obscure rained-in-24×7-village into < bated breath … Asthma & bronchitis people please go easy> GOUTHAM CITY! It was a city that remained overlooked by the Kerala State Electricity Board till 2004, considering it as jengle-land. They were finally discovered during the State I&B Department’s Cellular Rural Availability Programme <CRAP> Campaign. After much hoo-hulla and a brief powerful display of power to light up 15 zero volt bulbs, KSEB had started load-shedding. This being the powerless history of a powerful dark city, (once again for brand recall) GOUTHAM CITY!

The Man / The Mon:

BatMon (Picture Courtesy: Sood Dood & Mammooty)

He was born Bloomingkumaran Atapatachatathomveetil Todallyawesumeshwara Megadethmetallikeyakkarin Odipoyipattikuttidath Nunson. And like all kids born with the aforementioned name in Kerala, he was lovingly called Clijju. If you were to ask me why he was so called, I could have in-turn asked you to go ask his Peppa, but he had died when Clijju was just Cli. I could have asked to ask his Memmy, but the day Peppa died, Memmy also rode along, with a one-way ticket to the dark side.

< Flash-bag>

To say that Clijju was born with a silver spyoon in his mouth would have been an understatement. Like most affluent Mallus, he was born with a GOLD – Joy Allukas Limited editions one. Peppa was the local toddy-baron; he owned 8 toddy shops in central Goutham city, which only had 16 houses in all to begin with. By the age of 6, Clijju had his own toddy shop! Clijju was sent to school but every-time he sat for an exam, he was only able to spell half his name, before the time was up.

His childhood dream of being the youngest Marxist Party MLA by the age of 10 was lost amongst waiting tables in the toddy shops, even though he had strike-rate of 128 bandhs / year to his name. But even then Clijju had a much contended life, having fish for breakfast, fish for lunch and fish for dinner at night and late night drinks with Peppa and his school friends. Not to mention the wonderful Gazelle Nites at his shack, which he spent with Peppa, listening to famous tracks like ‘Toddy toddy piya karo’ and ‘Toddy si jo pi li hain’ …

That ‘black’ day, yes … it was ‘Rock-Night’ theme at Toddy HQ, their neighbour Thomachhan had called for yet-another bottle of liquor. Clijju knew that like the 234.5 bottles before,Thomachchan wouldn’t pay for this one too. But keeping in mind, Peppa’s standing instructions, on never saying no to a thirsty person, Clijju obliged. Clijju, knowingly handed Tom a bottle with a crack in it. Thomachhan was too drunk to notice anyway. On a high, Thomachhan, who was a ‘penk rogger’ by heart, started singing ‘I am the firestarter… I am the fire-starter’ and whirled around like a dervish, spilling toddy through the crack on all seated in that shop. It was like join the dots, except ’twas join the people. Clijju, aged 10, missed the spew, because of his tiny height.

Still angered at all the mess that was happening, Clijju, who was already high of his 10th bottle, threw a benananana peel purposely into Thomachhan’s orbit. But the prank went awfully wrong from here on. Thommachchan slipped and along with him the bottle slipped and landed near the kerosene stove. As predicted, he was indeed the fire starter. All around shop things start really heating up. No … I meant the other actual heating up … thermodynamically speaking, fire types. In a matter of minutes, everyone in the shop got lighted up like a lavangi during Diwali & the tape recorder symbolically gave a soulful rendition of Johnny Cash’s ‘Ring Of Fire’.

The last words that Peppa told Memmy were, “You are really glowing tonight!” And Clijju could tell that, this time, he really really meant it. With tear–filled eyes, Clijju watched away as his Peppa and Memmy embraced each other and poofed up in smoke. All around there was gloom, the mood had gone deep purple … and instinctively the tape recorded played … yes you guessed right … no not ‘Stairway to Heaven’ (see italicised hint morons) … it played … err … ‘Fireball’.

The searing heat had vaporized all of Clijju’s tears. He promised, I will cry no more. I am not as lachrymally challenged as that wimpy Spiderman. The moody tape recorder quickly spewed Ozzy with ‘No More Tears’.

That day in the dead of the night, he took an oath of no return.
“I, Bloomingkumaran Atapatachatathomveetil Todallyawesumeshwara Megadethmetallikeyakkarin Odipoyipattikuttidath Nunson …”

(by the time he said this much the sun was up, so the rest of the oath continued the next night)

“I … err the same guy as yesterday, will forever extinguish all the flames in my life forever, and forever I will embrace the dark forever and ever. Really …  forever!”

The Mon-ager

As, Clijju, screamed into the night, unaware to him, all his anguish was being viewed by someone else. High in the nocturnal inkiness, a heartbroken Freddie chorused Clijju’s scream … the only emotion Freddie ever emoted in his life. Momentarily, Freddie got carried away, making him lose his grip and falling off the palm tree, he was frisking liquor from. Clijju, whirled around to see Alfred, his Peppa’s best toddy brewer, standing there … err … in his undies. Clijju quickly climbed up the tree and retrieved Freddie’s lungi, from amongst the palm fronds. After all what are fronds for … I mean … friends for!

It was then that Freddie spoke in his Cainian Mallu monotone,“That was fast Master , but I can tell that there is room for improvement. I can make Faster, Stronger … and definitely get you Higher”.  With that, Freddie offered Clijju the fresh toddy he had just collected. He continued, “I know about the whole disaster… my heart moans with you. For me, your Father was like Dionysus himself, and your Mother gave me as much love…err I mean respect, as much she gave your Father. Your loss … is my loss …” Suddenly Kapil Dev dropped out of nowhere and said, “Our Loss!”

After that supremely awkward moment, Freddie, again held out a bottle of his best brew and continued, “Endure, Master. Take it. They’ll hate you for it, but that’s the point of Clijju, he can be the outcast. He can make the choice that no one else can make, the right choice the right brew”

It was then that Clijju knew that he should hold no regrets … and that he had to stand true by his brew, and forever serve Goutham city!

He screamed again………..

“I am THE DARK KNIGHT… Bloomingkum…no let me stick to my initials…”

“I am B.A.T.M.O.N!!!”

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Next Episode:
Batmon & Batcove!

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BatMon Post 2: Tech That BatMon

BatMon Post 3: BatMon Gears Up!

Onam was last Friday. The same day, post lunch, I was paralytic for about 30 minutes. 😛

Mom had gone berserk. Those of you, who know her, well she was twice the mother she usually is. She had got a meal with 26 items in, including some 4-5 varieties of pickles alone. < She just made me correct the count, stating that it was 28 items. I probably missed out counting salt & water! > It took me about 15 minutes, just to open and check what each container contained, stare at it and say, “Et tu!”

Lunch…

^Yes That’s about all the utensils we have…

Now, Mom was supposed to be ill. No, she doesn’t take any power enhancing drugs. and yes, I get all the super hyper thingie, people associate with me, from her and her alone. If you are my relative, yes I KNOW I look like her too… yes, her with a beard on… HA HA Funny Bunny! Quite an Archimedes you are yourself!

Anyway, this day, Mom found a poor unsuspecting guinea human < not quite a pig … thin frail Gujju boy he be>, in a very good friend of mine, who lovingly yet idiotically, got her an Onam gift. What the poor guy didn’t know was that this gift would now be returned 26 (or 28) fold! He sat to eat, not knowing he was about to be eaten up by the food instead. My mom’s eyes gleamed through the steam rising from the rice. Me, Dad, my cousin, and bro gulped. Lunch happened. A week on, I am yet to hear from my friend, that is if he still considers me a friend anymore.

My Dad is a gentle soul. But that, only when he is asleep. At all other times, he takes great pleasure in ensuring that his elder son, yours truly, is an active kid. Which means, double checking whether the bathroom tap is off 3 times in 15 minutes, lights have been switched off, as if a djinn within the Phillips tubes flickers it back on periodically etc etc. Get the drift? Anyway, so he is an active guy. Dad loves to exercise, and religiously does it, but that hadn’t changed his cute li’l Mallo Pottobello by an inch, in the last 15 years. But, yeah, to his credit, he has maintained it! His favorite joke is a jibe at my fave bhurji joint – “Kha Kha ke Anda banega tum ek din!!!” This joke has a cult following at my old workplace!

This post isn’t being written to tell you how thoroughly wasted I was on this given day, it is infact to capture a brilliant moment that I shared with my Dad that lazy afternoon.  <Pre-lunch ofcourse… post lunch is still a blur!>

Dad got nostalgic. He suddenly stopped midway, reading through an WOnam speshyal debble digest mag that my Mom had picked for wonly fordy rubies, and started talking to me… “ Kutta, naattilthe  Onamille, athinthe rasam onnu verya!!!”

< Author just realizes what a dork he has been and has installed an active blogpost auto translator called autotranslator.exe. Thanx to Y2Kmon for his suggestion >

…and started talking to me … “Dog, the Rasam in the Onams that we celebrated back in our village, it was of a different kind!”

< Author upgrades version of auto translator to autotranslatorupgradedversion.exe. Thanx to BashedUpY2Kmon for his suggestion >

…and started talking to me … “Son, the fun in the Onams that we celebrated back in our village, it was of a different kind!”

Dad then went on to say how the advent of Onam in Kerala would be with the arrival of smells! A week prior to Onam, fresh cut veggies would throng the Thrissur market. The scent, he says, gets pleasantly heady, as the corrianders and gingers fight it out with the limes and turboojes. A week of anxious, restless wait sets in, which though beautiful in itself, gets painfully long in bringing up the morning of the much awaited day. Sort of like an extended Friday morning feel.

The best part about my Dad’s Onam, was the gift that my Granddad used to buy him every Onam – a tennis ball! In those days, it cost Rs. 2, which was a fortune. Dad remembers how he used to ensure that the demand found it into Granpa’s ears a month before the D-day, and how the frequency of the reminders increased exponentially over time. Grandpa, would then get one of the workers to go enquire about it, after the constant pesterings. Then there used to be the forgetfulness of these guys who had all the Onam preps to take care off, let alone hunt for a ball. Follow-ups and reminders to the worker guy happened persistently.

The other kids, less fortunate ones would have know by then that Dad would be  getting a  tennis ball soon and would perform regular status checks. Then finally a few days before Onam, Grandpa will finally say that the ball has been purchased and handed over to Grandma. There was a madddd rush just to see it. Then Grandma will do the usual ‘mother’ thingie … “No no not now, wait till Onam” , “ You will lose the ball, if I give you now, and then you wont get another” etc etc.  Tantrums and cries and hulla happened. < Whenever I try to visualize this … I always picturize a little boy in shorts, but with my Dad’s face as of now, complete with grey hair and moustache! Makes me go ballistic> Then Grandpa will do the “Bachcha hain … dikha do, kam se kam” bit and appeal for a truce.

And then just like that Onam arrives! And so did Mom … She hijacked the convo and started on with the whole gurlie thing during Onam, as to how the girls used to  dress in bright, shiny clothes and used to get up real early to pluck flowers and create Rangolis made of flowers, and how they make pyramidal structures of mud & rock called Trikkarappan, and how they used to compete with the neighbours, as to who had the better Rangoli and all. And just as my Mom paused for a breath… which she does, once in a while, my Dad pounced back to his story! A mistake, that was later balanced off with extra Payasam slurps …

So then, post an early Onam feast, with the treasured tennis ball in his hand, Dad speeds on to the ground. He is ‘the dude’ that day, as all the children gather around him, and tennis ball exchanges hands! They look at it and baccha party expert comments are passed. The teams are quickly made, and in true Mallu style, soccer matches(not cricket) begin with that little green tennis ball. No one stops, till the searing afternoon sun is long gone.

As he wound up the narration, Dad looked very, very cheery, almost as if he was reliving those moments, as of then. As for me and my bro, our PS2 Soccer game that we been playing on since morning, suddenly seemed very stupid and boring!

You wake up from your super cozy sleep from underneath two blankets, and see that you are the cynosure of four very very livid women, who got rudely woken up to an alarm that went off from your cell phone, at 4:30  in the morning! You immediately realize that the lunch for that afternoon would be on you … and you also realize, why in the world, the bloody 4:30am alarm that was supposed to wake you up, didn’t go off … THE PREVIOUS DAY!!! You wonder how many of the suicide points in these mountains, were mistaken testimonials, for revenge over incidents like these!

Mist

The mist, envelopes the entire valley. It throws a challenge to the lazy-bummers saying, “Well, if you want to see the beauty I veil, you will have to walk up to me! No distant admirer shit!”

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The cold gets everyone good. Ever once in a while, you hear someone exclaim about it, or emote it with a wheezy cough, a muffled sneeze or a tissue-draped sniffle. The little toddler had bawled his lungs out for over two hours, since his arrival. With every passing moment, I was begining to get a hang of all that he was trying to say, “You dumb super idiots … what were you thinking, getting me here, off all the other places???” The subsequent goo goo ga ga swear words that followed, were lost to a quick cover-up operation by a sudden gust of cold mountain wind!

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The tree never let me feel alone, even when I was sitting that far from any sign of familiarity. It sends my way, a gentle breeze, and extend an invisible hand of friendship. It asks me about the well being of its kin from whence I come. In a moment of indecisiveness, I lie. The tree smiles momentarily, relieved. It gifts me a leaf, while I choke through my guilt.

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The lone light that hung over the trail leading up to the guest-house, goes to sleep, in the morning. It had had yet another long rainy night, and had kept sending a message of hope, to every weary traveller walking up this path. “ Hey, I know this is not much light for you to complete the journey… nevertheless, just letting you know that, your destination is just a few minutes away and you are quite safe now!”

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Bob Dylan makes for some real fine company. Gets more interesting, when he invites Mr. Tambourine Man to join in.

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The wind pulverizes you and swirls away with a smirk on its face, almost as if to say, “Hah! Guess you underestimated me!!”

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The silence talks to you … and you let that one-way conversation continue, knowing that absolutely any reaction from you, whatsoever … would end it.

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I walk the walk, with four very beautiful women, who very ironically, love to walk away from beauty… but find beauty in the walk-away! Women … Sigh!!!

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Then, there was a lonely TV, I don’t think anyone had interacted with it in a long long time, even though it could have shared many an interesting stories. Guess interesting people can get lonely too, under circumstances!

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The windows were like toll-nakas, that we encountered one too many, on our trip, “We can show you the amazing view on the other side … but will cost you a few degrees of heat!”

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The sweat-shirts find their true sense of purpose in life, snuggling close around you, almost doing an SRK and saying, “Don’t worry boss … Main Huun Na!”