Sleep deprived –

Day 1 – “I’m just feeling a little tired, and a lot sleepy in the afternoon”

Day 2 – “Just a little tired”

Rest of the week – “Oh I’m killing this. Guess I’m just one of those people that can live on 3 hours of sleep a day. I KNEW IT!”

Saturday – *collapses*
*doesn’t get out of bed for 4 days*


Monsoon Diaries : Steel tumblers and tea in steel tumblers

I can drink tea directly from the steel tumbler at home – the smaller one with the steel handle – only when I have prepared it. Because with Amma’s tea there’s enough only for 4 modest-sized glasses (or 5 or 6, based on how many of us are missing from home), no more. And why would you drink from a tumbler if your glass had as much (tea) to offer? Unless you didn’t want to bother washing that extra glass.

We also have in our kitchen the steel tumbler with the steel handle in a bigger size, it lets me pretend I’m chaya-adikaling (beating tea?) over the kitchen sink that temporarily functions as a spillover tank for the tea I send flying all over. Usually little, if any, is left by the time I’m done performing the rhythmic beating (adikal).

Image result for south indian tea shop gifA scaled-down demonstration of beating tea. When you really perform the act, it should look something like this :downloadBeating tea/Chaya adikaling (to scale) for people who haven’t witnessed the sorcery. I’m a bad witch, I guess. Also a bad translator.

I specifically mentioned the steel handle of the steel tumblers because we also have in our kitchen a steel tumbler about the same size with a black plastic handle that we take kanjivellam (rice water), and occasionally tendercoconut water in. We don’t use it for much else, it lays abandoned in an unwieldy corner of the kitchen until somebody falls sick. And then all of a sudden it is everywhere you look.
(Kanjivellam has been claimed by Malayali Achans and Ammas and Ammummas and Appoopans to have high nutritious quality. Some go as far as assigning analgesic, antiseptic and antibiotic properties to the magical drink).

Since the arrival of June, the steel tumbler for kanjivellam with the plastic handle has taken over my home.


Evenings are for tea.
Mornings are also for tea but morning chaya would be Amma’s monopoly.
I like to be generous with tea, both for myself and others. It helps that I’m bad at discerning proportions, unlike my mother. There is not too much difference in our processes, only in our products.

Amma’s chaya (served in glasses) :

1. Pour enough water in the vessel for 4/5/6 people
2. When it boils, add enough Kannan Devan Tea powder aka chayappodi
3. Add enough boiled milk followed by enough sugar

Define enough? Quite ambiguous yet not exactly uncertain, rather open to interpretation. Are we doing modern art?
Enough is enough!

My chaya (served in glasses and a tumbler) :

1. Pour water in the vessel. Take some out if I think it’s waay too much but otherwise I do not meddle. Like I said, I’m generous. A little too much water = a little too much tea. And that never hurt anybody. No?

2. Add tea powder when the water boils – enough chayappodi to color all the liquid, doesn’t matter what shade as long as it appears brown. (If not, you probably shoved in the wrong condiment. Throw out the water discreetly and start over).

3. Add milk – how much ever is left in the paal paathram (also did I mention I’m generous).

4. Time for more tea powder because you knew that was waay too much milk before I even added it.
Yes indeed, waay too much is Amma’s daughter’s catchword.
Define waay too much? That’s cute, you’ll know.

5. Sugar, usually followed by some more tea powder. More sugar. What? Be generous.

And there you have it. The path to attaining high BP. But that never killed anybody. No?


I was middle class before being middle class was cool

I lived a major part of my life thinking we’re a poor family. It started when I was really young, like 5 or 6, was confirmed by the time I was 7 or 8, and stayed until I was done with my 10th (15 years). By ‘poor’ I don’t mean unable to afford meals, but more like we have the bare minimum and nothing more. Of course we weren’t anywhere close to rich, but I was young and I didn’t know there existed such a thing called ‘middle class’.

Yes we were middle class before being middle class was cool.

(Although I thought we were just poor).

I mean we’d lived in staff quarters since I was born (Engineering quarters till I was 4 and then Medical college quarters), I never owned more than 5 presentable (to non- relatives) clothes at a time, 4 cousins shared one double bed during summer vacations. That might be enough for a regular child but me being the self-centred kid I was, it was the more personal stuff that convinced me we were poor.

My parents were of the opinion that Manichechi (my aunt) already spoiled me by buying everything I wanted so they were under no obligation to make matters worse.

For starters, I never got any dolls from my parents – Barbie or otherwise – the fact that I never wanted any doesn’t matter. All little girls need dolls, okay? Buy your own daughter some dolls, for my sake. And when they paint monsters on the faces and detach all the limbs like I did is when you stop, knowing that she doesn’t deserve any. I also innocently checked under the frock for underwear (there wasn’t one), probably would’ve highlighted them as well.

In the evenings, Maami our maid cooked us snacks. On Maggi days, she boiled a single packet of Maggi and apportioned the noodles onto three plates. One packet for three okay?

These were only subtle hints my parents were throwing at me. There were more cruel ones.

I don’t think anybody could relate to Swamy (from Malgudi Days of course) more than I could. (Well maybe Achu Annan could). When Swamy prepared the Shopping list for Swamy and had to think hard to make sure those few things he jotted down were the only ones he needed and reflected at how his needs were so little, I must tell you I already knew he was stretching it a bit too far. Of course only to have the list brutally dismissed by his father’s “Take whatever you want from my drawer, I don’t have money to spend on all this.” I was relieved to know there existed other households like mine, if only in books.

The first time I asked my father explicitly for pencils (I don’t know why I remember it this way but it was really explicit) he cheerfully replied “Oh why didn’t you tell me you wanted them” and bought me a whole packet of Apsara HB. The next time I decided to cheerfully ask since I had such a considerate father, he asked me what I’d done with the bunch he bought me the last time.

You needed to reason for everything. Buying groceries at the Margin Free Market, he’d stand in billing queue with the full basket and say “Now go grab whatever else you want quick”. Pleasantly surprised (it was my first time, how would I know?), I picked up no less than what my tiny arms couldn’t carry. My father cross-checked the items and only what I really needed went in, plus 3 kitkats.

Next time on I had to pick things up before he stood in the queue so he could filter out Paru’s excesses. Trips to Margin Free ended that way, me attempting a critical examination of my own choices (really I was only trying to decide what I could hope to coax him into buying).

We always bought new clothes for Onam and Christmas and Deepavali but it was usually my uncles and aunt who took us shopping so I assumed we probably didn’t have much money to spend on that, or whatever grownup reason they had. And we never owned anything fancy at home or to wear.

At British Library we could pick 5 books among the 3 of us from WonderLand kids’ section (alright 2 since Achu Annan hardly cared about it) and I was under so much pressure to finish reading as many books as possible while we were there so I could take home other books. And I would negotiate with Kannenan, how many do you want to take? 3? Why are you picking THAT it doesn’t even look nice – if you’re taking 3 today it’ll be my turn to take 3 the next time. (*scrunches up face* you HATE books, why’d you do that to me Mr.Kannan, why?)

British library taught me I should always space my kids properly.

Also our Medical college quarters was so stuffed with all the furniture. During powercut nights you could hear Lagaan songs playing from Achu Annan’s Walkman and I would be choreographing my way through all the clutter, dancing wondrously until my toe hit against a stupid tea-pow. I’ve learned over the years that no matter how big/small the living room or even the house, my father will find a way to fill it with furniture.

So the time that I was very young I don’t know if I thought we were poor as in poor poor (‘tight’), but I knew that our lives had a lot of constraints. Also read : you can’t always get what you want, you may almost never get what you want unless your parents are in a good mood, ESPECIALLY if it involves spending money. And I took it upon me to correct them if any friends had the notion that ‘college professors and doctors earn reaally well’. (I don’t anymore since they revised the Pay scales).

I only realized when I was 15 that I’d vaguely thought of us to be people without money. (Some things you don’t realize, they’re solemnly understood, or something like that.) What happened when I was 15? My second brother went to college somewhere poor families probably don’t send their kids – no it wasn’t somewhere superposh but you don’t know how unresourceful I thought we were. You should’ve seen my face when I asked Amma if we could afford it and she replied with a suddenly formal ‘both your parents have been working since before you were born, we should be able to afford education’.

I was furious with her for almost a month after for letting me believe we were poor (it’s still true we didn’t have a lot of money) but of course I was happy we weren’t anymore. Not that we lived any different post-realization.

From time to time I complain to Amma about how I had to compress all my Shopping Lists for Paru just like Swamy did, and how having 3 kids was a bad idea and they should’ve had just me. Well you turned out fine (define fine? :D), she says, now get a good job and you can have kids and raise them the way you want.

She only says that cos I already told her if I ever have kids I’ll leave it upto her to raise them.


Also, 2 kids maybe fun but 3 is the best 😀

Meeting Him

I had decided when I was pretty young

I knew what to ask Him for when I got my wishes

If ever.

I’d ask for a cupboard full of Apsara Extra Dark pencils

Pearl-white Faber Castell erasers and a thick coloring book and paints

I’d ask for a nice badminton racket for myself

That I wouldn’t share

And dirtier bruise-ier knees a testimony to my outdoor affair.

Multicolored hairbuns and satin ribbons

Straight long hair my parents couldn’t bob again,

And a new pair of white socks for school everyday.

Then I’d ask

Why he didn’t let some of His kids sleep sound at night.

Why I was young but never blind

Why only some ever woke up with swollen eyes –

So maybe a lesson or two on naivety complementary

For the not so lucky, never so naïve.



Shopping with Shoplifters

Self-explanatory featured images/titles ruin blogs.

I was at EasyDay today – the store I visit only when I cannot find stuff on BigBasket/ZopNow/at the corner shop that sells Parachute Oil and JimJam cream biscuits, because the queue at their counter kills the last bit of shopping glee. I am not a shopaholic – every time I come across something, I tend to check my bag’s compartment into which I’ve shoved all my notes and coins, my Maestro & metro cards, my Apollo Pharmacy card and Pious Achan’s visiting card, subtracting and summing prices in my tiny brain that slowly shuts down as it plays toils with numbers.

I sift through every shelf, spending a significant amount of time on the Bathing Bars rack to read and compare the prices, making economic decisions and reveling in the grownup-ness of it. I’ve been doing this since I was in Class 12 and I’m not yet sure if there’s anything grownupy about it or maybe I just like reading labels.

Especially creative one-liners like ‘Enjoy the biscuity flavor of this biscuit.’

I whiff at every offer, every Save Rs.5/Buy 1 Get 1 Free, before picking my Laundry Freshener and Shower Gel and Toothpaste and Real/Tropicana and Sugar, because you can’t compromise on other stuff in the grocery list.

So I was near the toothbrush rack when I noticed that a couple next to me had been fiddling with some thing for sometime, considerable whisper exchanges and giggles included. I glanced to see it was condoms. Perhaps they were uncomfortable in a stranger’s presence, who was most certainly only concerned about the 14 rupees she’d be saving by picking a Colgate toothbrush instead of Sensodyne and not with the flavor of the condom they were choosing, but how’d they know that?

Being the considerate co-shopper, I slowly shifted to the Shampoo and Conditioners rack and spent quality time with the tubes and bottles (I’m a very engrossed kinda person, don’t ask me to do things for fun or to wait until a condom-picking couple leaves, I’ll end up doing it seriously), making my way through NEW YEAR BONANZA OFFERS.

Which is when the girl shuffled, and into her jeans’ tight front pocket (the struggle is real) she squeezed what looked like tiny condom sachets and brisked out of the shop, the guy following closely after.

After mindboggling questions of Why would anybody steal condoms which come at like Rs.5 (I’m told, of course), and the more surprising realization of OH YOU CAN ACTUALLY STEAL STUFF HERE, I went back to my modest economics.

Guilty of not reporting the crime I’d witnessed.

Or maybe it was foreplay. I’ll never know.


School :D

(The kid(s) in the pic isn’t me – it’s Noyna, Jeriya or Miriam, I had bobbed hair until at least 5th standard)

“First line – ‘My-name-is-Parvathy Sarat (Roll No. 28),’” I read out from my English Composition note’s ‘Myself’ page laid out open under my desk. “You’ll have to write your name,” I added in a hushed tone.
“Be soft, Sunitha teacher is making her rounds,” Noyna (Roll No. 26) hissed, almost giggling.

Seated between the two of us, the ever-compliant and innocent Parvathy (Roll No. 27) was hunched on our request, almost lying on top of her answer sheet now, scribbling Myself away with formidable acumen. Noyna and I exchanged messages (literally) behind her back.

“How does she know Myself?”

“She studied for the Unit Test like we were supposed to,” we nervously giggled some more. “Ayyo Paru teacher!”

“Okay next line ‘I – am- 6 -years –old.’”
“Edo shhhhhh she’s looking.”

Being equally weak at English or being new to Class I-C at Holy Angels’ ISC, or more probably because we came by the same blue Ananthapuri travels, Noyna and I were best friends.
Hers was the first stop in the morning, mine the second. We took turns to sit by the window. Unless we’d had a fight – then the person in the mood to ‘Edo sorry’ first would sacrifice their seat as a token of reignited bestfriendship.

We ate Noyna’s jamcakes in the evenings that her Ammachi bought her, blush pink and white with a coating of snowy coconut sprinkles. We’d watch sunlight sifting through gaps in clouds and declare ‘God’ was peeking down at us (I was a staunch believer of God when I was with her). For no particular reason, another bestfriend duo like ourselves was our enemy– we decided we were smarter and cooler, and made fun of everything they did (and not very unloudly) between ourselves.

We were innocent and cruel, like kids are.

Life Crisis No. 1 (English Composition No. 2) :

“Copy down My Family from the blackboard.”

Teacher reads it out for us:

I – have – a – small – family. There – are – dash – members – in – my – family. Fill in the dash with number of members in your family – How many of you have a brother or a sister? Goooood, you write 4 okay?? How many of you are an only child? Goooood, you write 3.

I waited for the Goooood for the 5-member family specimen I represented – it never came. Was it still a small family if there were 5 members? Could I write 5? Mine had never struck me as particularly small anyway.

As the other kids proceeded to copy down the lines, I looked from left to right and front and behind to see if there was anyone clueless as me, making a mental note to confront my parents and my brothers. Jeriya had only one sister. So did Roshni, Parvathy, Meera pretty much everyone I knew.
Then I found Amina with two sisters 😀 We skipped to the teacher, she laughed and said Yes as we waited with abated breaths.

Class  II : My Family haunted me again. This time I knew I had a small family.

Class III : Gowri’s adventures with the 10m long python on the road.“Really?” “Yes, you can ask my sister, she was there too!” Of course we believed her, that’s what we did – share our own stories and believe each others’. Kids don’t lie, kids are just creative.

She brought to class the whole kitchen machinery (toy set) – gas stove, cylinder, vessel, and the tiny Sachin/Sehwag figure you got with Horlicks. Under our desk, the whole story played out – as Noyna, Jeriya and I filled the steel vessel with water, Gowri delivered the narration – she was the best. (“It’s getting late for Sehwag’s bath. Let’s put water on the stove” – see, like I said it doesn’t sound as good when I say it :P). Laughter riot and a shouting riot from Deepa teacher ensued.

Class IV :

Group Song for School Day. A flock of frilled frocks. You girls look like angels! (I looked like shit). But surely Angels, with ungrimed and polished black Bata buckle shoes and new white socks pulled up right upto where the fat calves wouldn’t let them climb up.

Class V:

Caroline teacher taught us Little Women – in her crisply pressed sarees with stiff pleats. I knew her finger rings and earrings and what sarees she wore them with. On days she didn’t, I wondered if she’d misplaced them the last time and couldn’t find them in the morning rush as her own father called behind her Paalu kudichitt pooo, like mine did in the mornings.

You just had to sit and look into your books, while she read in her great reading voice. It was a story with Christmas presents and bedtime prayers and pudding and drawing pensuls. My life was He-Man on Doordarshan and cricket with neighbours and monsoon mangoes so the new world charm was way too much.

In the afternoon English-II class, we sat in our blue checked pinafores and ties and shirts as the sun threw light onto the open red corridor outside, bent over our tiny texts – some shared, others on their own. And Little Women by Louisa May Alcott would play out. It was about 4 girls whose father was away at some war and her mother kept reminding them over dinner and over prayer how they had to be good girls and how they were looking forward to playing out The Pilgrims’ Progress when their father returned. I thought of myself as Amy because of my stupid nose, though I knew I’d be Jo when I grew up – everyone adored Jo. Though I knew Jo was actually Caroline teacher, especially when Jo cut her beautiful long hair towards the end to save money for her family (I’m sorry for the spoiler) – Caroline teacher was brimming with pride, giving away her little secret. But Jo was the best, so I wasn’t going to out her.

At the year end, Roshni, Akhila and I were class toppers, and we were asked to pick ‘any book’ we liked from the school library. We returned to class, they had Class VI texts with them (headstart or whatever makes sense to 10 year olds). My logic was parents would buy us those anyway, so I picked what looked like a puzzle/games book for kids. As our class teacher skimmed through it and closed it with a grin, I noticed it said Class Zero.

Yes, I think that confirms I had a disturbing childhood.

Sorry for the abrupt ending though, this should’ve been posted long ago. And a Happy New Year!

Bits of Happy (Love You Zindagi)

I shove hair out of my face to see where I’m going along the road. The black face-muffler that reaches up almost to my eyes, poking at the lower lashes, is fumbling my sight. The fickle hairs –they’ve never allowed me a thing as a good hair day-add to the horse vision. In my efforts to return the unruly waves back in place, the tiny transparent cover dangling from my fingers with the packed 10rs boiling-hot masala chai presses against my mufflered-face : an instant burn. Almost.

Across the road, next to Chinese Corner, the vadapav-poha-breadbajji counter and the indulgent after-class 10am crowd call to me. My breakfast would be waiting at the hostel. “It’s probably sticky oily Poori today”. Well the heart wants what it wants.

Of course my Indian heart’s been trained well with the co-ordinates of the lakshmanarekha of wants, lying at 2 inches from safe Vadapav.

The first time I went to the counter, I had to muster up all my mental strength to walk to the outside-counter chettan and say, “Bhaiyya ek vadapav”, playing out in my head all the horrors that awaited my HealthyForAWeekAfterBeingTaxedAlmostToDeathByInfectionsInflictedByYoursTruly stomach. In hindsight, a series of poor choices had by then taught me not every infection ends in hospitalization/death, unlike I/my super-anxious Amma had led me to believe.

After the brazenly overpriced (and blatantly bland) dosa at Sagar Ratna (Rs.167 including taxes but you can probably still sue if something happens to you), the 20rupay Vadapav was savior of the stomach and soul and precious notes.

I stop on my tracks to cross. Something brushes against my jeans at the back of my knees, I turn right and I turn left to find a black dog with his white-patched tail, watching the traffic to our right with quiet poise, unmindful of the Homo sapien next to him. I smile. My eyes (the only visible part of my face) smile along. An old uncle appooppan on his scooter next to Chinese Corner smiles.

The traffic clears in 5 seconds, I turn to see if my fellow-crosser approves – he takes a step forward – and we walk to the other side together. Another human exchange of smiles and twinkling eyes later, my road companion- the object of our joint fascination – still oblivious of it all walks away.

It’s a good morning.

After doling out yellow rice-like poha to 5 customers at once, the busy outside-Counter chettan with his back to the crowd attends to me, “Aur aapko?”

“Ek Vadapao bhaiyya,” I say, letting the pav become a pao. That’s how Himanshi says it, her full lips housing beautiful teeth within curling up to converge to a close. Almost. Making you (=me) anticipate a boiled egg. Or a boiled egg with fillings. Pao.

He grabs hold of a pao (a squarish mini bread/bun with baked brown sides – I’m loling at my definition) from its cover on the counter, looking freshly baked and warm (it’s not, from experience). He carves a side and halves it, leaving one end still attached, revealing the white bread inside.

He stains the white with a tiny circle of red, the fiery seeds and flakes awaiting you on their chilli bed. It’ll probably be a little hot, but liquid fire extinguisher in my purple Milton bottle awaits too.

Another chettan behind the counter is chaya adikkaling – because I don’t think beating tea (in long unbroken brown streams) is quite the right expression. And no air of pleasantly overpowering spicy richness hits my nose  – of thick fibrous ginger strands and crushed cardamom and hocuspocus and of course a bucket of water added to a vessel of boiling milk – the story of a tiny adorable cover dangling from my fingers.

He picks up a vada filled with potato goodness, places it between the bun halves, hands it over to me on the tiny round silver plate after pouring on its side some green chutney with white paneer shavings, the chutney I hated when I first had it, asking instead for the sweet red. Silly old me.

Making my way out of the immediate crowd, I squish the two buns together so it flattens, so my mouth can accommodate it. Dip and bite. Dip and bite. It’s over in 5. The chain interrupted by calls for more green chutney. How times changed, silly old me.

The heat hits. I pay the 20, as inside chettan hands over to outside chettan a tray of newly deep-fried vadas filled with potato goodness.

Like golden-brown muffins from overworked Anina’s oven. Like Tessa’s Nikita chechi’s love&butter cinnabuns.

Or not. But Oh what I wouldn’t give to live a life full of those. But it’s time to chill the burn from the heart’s wants.

I grin as I hear Amma in my head, “Avidunnum ividunnum oronnu kazhichitt infection!”. Past the push-carts dotting the sides. Guavas. Apples. Oranges. Greenish purplish thingies.

“Kithna bhaiyya?” How much?

“Satthar rupay kilo”.

Hiding my inadequate Hindi that’s ignorant of what satthar means – never reveal that you don’t know Hindi, or they’ll cheat – (We like to think they cheat us anyway).

“Bees ke dedo,” another dude says. For 20rs.

“Arre, bees ke do hi milega”.

2 for 20 -__- Sheri va povam. I leave with my packed-and-adored tea and my satiated tummy.

The overly priced EVERYTHING (except heart’s wants) don’t bother today though (cos it’s a good morning), nor persistent queues at random places directing to hitherto-neglected banks that nobody noticed until Modi demonetised currency, as Love you Zindagi plays in my head.

And I’m walking the thronging roads and glancing past photocopy and bookshops arranged back-to-back and stepping from pavement to road to pavement, but really, I could be hugging the hard-to-spot and probably chori-laden trees, playing kabbadi on the non-existent beach, or flying a kite thoughIknowNotHow along the shore, because incongruous bits make up your (= mine, though probably yours too) whole.

But incongruous bits of happy is still happy.

There’s a girl eating chaat on Aggarwal sweets’ high table outside, and I set a mental reminder to return for their pani puri in the evening.

Kya khoob ye Jodi hai teri meri” – what a lovely pair we make, you and me, Pani puri. The gastric juice in my stomach blushes at the prospects. I can almost hear Pazham pori accusing, “I rhymed with the lyrics too, you know”.

What a nice morning. Random people smile back at smiling eyes on foot. There’s a driverless swift deZire parked next to an empty rickshaw opposite the dry latrine. Look at the fairness of the world on this fair morning (the muffler lets no smells in) – swift deZires and rickshaws relieving their ways to ease, together.

The cute Punjabi guy outside the reading room smiles at you (no not you, me), at smiling eyes.

The neat gridded roads, the electric post that’s a brilliantly entangled mess of thick wired loops in all sides at the top, the well-swept concrete, the clothes hanging in balconies swaying in the cool early-winter breeze, the still-on Diwali lights, the orange streetlamps lit since last night, family gardens on scanty ground behind walls of homes shooting flowering trees into the sky. And the nonchalant dog on a parked car sitting up with half of his pink tongue out from a shut mouth, eyes closed and fully savoring in the sun, cocooning in the warmth of it, raising his head to the chorus “love you zindagiiiiiii”.

The last turn to my narrow hostel street with cars parked on either sides. An Indica from the opposite direction, and a scooter following it- I move to the side, behind the siderow of parked cars. I can see smiling eyes reflecting on its rear glass – I puff my cheeks and raise my brows, in the reflection the eyes swell but the muffler hiding the puffed-cheeks don’t.

I receive a sudden jerky bump against my lower half – the car right infront wasn’t parked after all – Bollywood music stops playing. A reflex of “AYYO” escapes through the muffler, the car on the left swipes past, the scooter uncle chuckles out loud. I get out of the way to the middle of the road.

A leash goes off.

Oh WOW –  no indicators, no lights, no horns. Or perhaps I hadn’t noticed. Perhaps, yet that’s no way to reverse your car. When an elated soul is making faces at your rear? No wonder they say people are stupid. They who? They whoever, since when do you backanswer?

Chuckling at a poor soul hit mercilessly by a car. BUMPED INTO? SAME THING. Cynicism takes over like an obedient hawk, repositioning on its briefly empty spot.

What if it ran me over? Of course he’d still chuckle at it. And then they’ll watch as I bleed to death. I wasn’t silly, I was right, the old red-chutney-loving cynical me.

With a defiant look (that shows only in non-smiling eyes still) I walk. Amidst the Cruel cruel world of reverse-takers and chuckling scooters and smile-destroyers, its muffler-wielding blood-boiling victim of terminal bumps, and vanquisher of premature death.

The vanquisher of premature death soon enters my hostel, makes the entry, and sees my breakfast-loyal to me and to me alone in this cruel cruel world -waiting. Sticky oily poori, I’m sure.

A cylindrical package wrapped in aluminium foil, and a dark-brown curry to accompany. Oh.
OHHH. Something vacates a recently occupied seat.

I should really watch where I’m walking – the world isn’t all that bad you know, the car had hardly touched me. Mountains out of molehills. With a smile, I take off the muffler, grab hold of my breakfast and proceed to my room.

Putt-kadala gets too much credit in my stories, I know.

4 years. College.

Note: Specific references may not get across unless you are acquainted with some of the people mentioned.

I’m listening to “Thiruvaavani Raav” and for some reason the only thing that comes to mind is the pretty bespectacled sister from the movie, and Rohit going, “Enthu nalla kuttya alle” as we leave the theatre (of course that’s not really how he put it :P), the others nodding and sheriya’ing in approval. Next on my playlist is probably some other track with some other strings attached. It’s all fine when you’re still in college and have that sudden rush of memories – the subjects in question are always in sight, even when you might want them to momentarily disappear once in a while.

In a few weeks though, the scene would disperse and all that’s left would be cords and contacts.


Apparently Facebook thinks it’s time for deep questions now since college is almost done.  Pretty sure I didn’t learn concentration at CET. Badjoke level  – Bharath. Don’t judge me.

And now to answer this audacious query.

I remember the first day of college like it was yesterday. It was raining in the morning, I wore my navy blue kurta and black jeans, sceptical if I was shabbily dressed for college. I remember how I walked up the steps of Golden Walkway under the umbrella Amma had handed me in the morning with her customary “Kondu kalayalle paru”. I remember smiling at the drenched and dripping trees on either sides of the Walkway that swayed happily in the breeze as if ushering me in. I had one used 200page notebook from school in my bag, there still were many blank pages left. They won’t actually teach on the first day, no? (yes they will, note that Facebook). I wondered if there’d be seniors waiting in class to rag us. I wondered what the subjects would be like, what the teachers would be like, but mostly what the students would be like. And I wondered what Sandhra and Bharath would be like – they were the only ones I had become friends with on FB after orientation day.

I got answers to all the speculation from my first day in class, never mind if they were right or wrong. I rushed home that evening to tell Amma I wouldn’t survive four years in this place. “4 years potte, I won’t survive a month there OK? Nithya AND Gopika are in the other class AMMA”

“Are the kids in your class not nice?”

“The ones I talked to seemed fine. But they’re not KIDS! Not like the ones from school anyway.”

“Well you’re not in school anymore.”

“Onnu kekkuo!? There was this girl Athira from Kozhikode – she’s the first person Haneena and I talked to – Haneena is nice she’s from Palakkad – and she was just talking to us but we thought she was ragging us okay? So rude! AND she’s in my class! ”

“See you already made friends from two other districts” Amma laughed.

“Onnu povuo, then there’s Physics, Chemistry and Maths. Those things were supposed to be over with entrance no? Rest are all basic this, basic that, BME BCE BSC and ABCD”sree(This was a status I put up during first year university. Even design is better than this shit lol.)

“Okay let’s join All Saint’s next year appo Paru can study Arts, mathiyo?”

“BLAH. I wish I were in some other department. ANY other dept”

I went on to complain about my class, that there were way too few people from Trivandrum, and all the nice (by which I really meant FAMILIAR) people seemed to be from here.

Four years past, that conversation turns bogus, and the nicest of all people you meet in the 4years here HAVE to be from Kozhikode.  And the nicest-people-I-met-here list would go something like Athira (from the first day, yes), Divya, Anapi, Roshni, Niranjana, Nidhin, Renjini, Navas, Sreelekshmi,  Lekshmi, Thasni, Ginu, Arjun only because it’s my list 😀 I should probably mention it’s an incomplete one, just in case anybody from my batch is accusingly glaring at my post.

And I can never thank God enough that I didn’t end up in ANY other department, anything to do with circuits would have killed me. Where else would I be expected to dig pits on the ground and have 12th std Chemitry labs and mix concrete using shovels with picture-perfect lab groups that comprise another Parvathy as thin as me for moral support in times of nervous breakdowns, an Oormila for the timely completed rough record, and a Pramod to discuss episodes of Chandanamazha with? 😀



The first one and a half years of college Nithya and I were busy deriving *cough* inspiration from seniors *cough* (SHE might actually do Civil services, given the quantum of all the inspiration :D), and tagging poor Gopika along everywhere we went. So if anybody had a crush on anybody and it was public knowledge, I never came to know of it until third year. If two from my class became a couple in that time, I never heard of it until third year either. There was Drishti and Dhwani and ICI and lots of running around, everyone was eager to get to know everyone. All occasions from birthdays to buying new chappals were celebrated together in class by all- well obviously not all-, until stuff settled down. By the end of it Nithya/Gopika and I were arguing as to whose class was better lol. Come to think of it, we still do.

Confession: The first time I cried in my entire life for somebody from class being rude to me was in second year. Yes that happened, and Shemeena the pacifier wanted to know if I planned to weep every time somebody decided to shout at me, “It’s up to you to ignore the shit people throw at you, especially when you know it’s shit”. No she never used those many ‘shits’ but it’s pretty much the gist of what she said. The day I truly realized college wasn’t – isn’t – school.

Everyone is different here. Somebody’s idea of awesome is somebody else’s lame. Somebody’s fun is somebody’s boring/outrageous. Somebody’s rude is somebody’s normal, and everybody’s going to unapologetically be themselves, as they should. And if somebody throws shit your way, you could ignore them altogether, or you could just ignore the shit and be cool even if you don’t think they deserve it. It’s not called being fake, it’s called growing up cos you realize everyone’s wired a little differently. But idk what it’s called if you’re smiling at them and solemnly hoping they’d get hit by a truck, I’m not that evil so I wouldn’t know 😛

That was the first and probably the best piece of advice I received in college.

4 years past, a lot has changed. No more shallow small talk and pointless socializing and definitely no more celebrating the new pair of chappals. But I’ve reached the point where the captions from first year #newplace #newfriends #newlife have turned to #amazingpeople #lastfewdays and memories made that will remain.

So Holi will always be a reminder of THIS day 😀sree.png

And Tum Saath Ho will forever be the vocal team comprising Vinaya, Oormila, Niranjana, Roshni, Divya, Revathy and Malu seated on the last bench of S8C1 and almost resolutely singing the song in chorus. I don’t think Malu sincerely put in her efforts though cos it actually sounded good. 😀

Uptown Funk will be Rintu chanting along with Karthik’s stereo, just as passionately as she dances. I would post the Iski Uski clip here, but she’d kill me.

Right Round will be an entire year of putting up with Nithya’s bass voice in S3/S4 and later realizing in S7 that she’s faaaaar better than Athira 😀

I’ve also learnt that the ‘Trivandrum is rude’ isn’t ALL garbage. But for every seemingly rude “Athinippa njan yentho venam” Trivandrumite you meet here, there’ll also be an innocent ever-helpful ever-clueless Malu asking in her unintentionally rough tone, “Enthu patti paaru, thaan inn despa? Njanoru paattu paadi tharanoo?” You see, for every Sankaran with a heavenly voice, you’ll also meet a lot of terrible singers, and Malu would serve their cumulative effect that can cheer up anyone’s bad day. 😀

For every Adarsh who is in love with CET, there’ll be a Raj Govind who wants to burn the place down. I might have contributed at one point of time.

For every Divya who won’t copy during series tests, there’ll be a Puru who cross-references more than two individuals’ answer sheets before settling for the better one.

For every befuddled-looking Allan, there’ll be an Anapi who never stops smiling.

For every quiet Navajoth, there’ll be a Ginu who never shuts up.

And for every Smitha mam, there’ll be a Jiji sir.

For every all-cool Aishu on the project presentation day (she was practically stoned with the Avomine she’d gulped the previous night :D), there’ll be the rest of the super-tensed project team that goes “Engottelum erangi odiyalo?”

For every Structural project group that finishes their work weeks ahead of the presentation, there’ll be Gopika’s team whose project equipment arrives on the evening of the eve.

And for every Ajay/Jasin/Oormila who spent four years at CET learning Engineering and Quantity Surveying and Structural Analysis, there are those of us that studied that tables should be titled at the top and figures at the bottom 😀

The best stories I heard in 4 years were almost always a part of the reserved ones, the ones who wouldn’t get on the dance floor until the lights are off. And the best speech was delivered by the guy who occupied the corner seat in class quietly, and calmly tolerated (and laughed at) the hilarious shit we did in environmental lab.

So I guess there’ll be no more cursing the UG Professor and putting up #submissionsandshit updates on FB customizing the privacy setting to “Hide from Smitha mam”. No more begging teachers to postpone assignments and queuing in front of Latha mam/HOD/Vijayan sir’s room.

No more large groups huddled around the first bench eating Renjini and Shilpa’s lunch and no more deciding between Thalassery/LH food. No more going to #48 in the evening and listening to Sreelekshmi’s stories before practice. And when everything’s done and everyone has packed their bags and vacated their rooms and hugged and said the final goodbyes to catch trains from Trivandrum one last time, I’ll have the songs in my playlist to remind me of 4 years spent together in a place that offered fun as much as freedom, and made everyone laugh and cry and hate and love and sing and dance.



I remember the first day of college like it was yesterday. I remember wondering if, after 4 years when I step down the Golden Walkway one last time as a student there, I’d be a different person than the kid climbing those treads. If I’d be taller than the stunted figure I was then. If I’d make enough memories and meet the lovely people I’m supposed to meet in these four years. I wondered if the trees would dance in the rain to bid me goodbye, as they did when I met them the first time. But mostly, I wondered if I’d be sad to leave, if 4 years would be enough in this place.

I have the answers now, all of it, I know that the time we get here isn’t enough to take enough selfies for a lifetime. 4 years of sitting next to Athira/Rintu in the third bench of C1 listening to their stories, or stealing minutes between classes to eat vadas at Civil Canteen, or hearing Divya’s “Oru announcement und ellarum keep quiet” – none of it is enough in the end.

And as we’re asked to collect our no-dues, I wish we could ask, “When do next sem classes begin?” just one more time.




CET CIVIL 2012-2016 BATCH.

Trust me, you’re alive :)

These have been a couple of long days, long weeks, long months. The much-awaited weekend’s coming. The plan is to snuggle into that nice cosy couch and lie there all day as the warmth of home wraps you in and lulls you to sleep.

But you know what they say. Life is a jerk.

And before you know it, Life has busted it all – even that little plan to sleep all day. You’re on fast-sinking ground, shrouded in darkness. Lying amidst broken fragments of something fragile yet wild, threatening to drown you. It’s a while before you reach calm and make out shapes in the black. And when you do, you gasp – it’s you. It’s all you, shattered to pieces. You’re in the graveyard of your own life, and they weigh you further down to darker hollows.

Is this a joke? Retribution? What for? You sit on your knees and cry. It’s not like you were actually going to sleep all day. This so-called Life is stupid, okay? The ground seems to appear steady now. Maybe it was punishment for some wrongdoing, either way it’s over now, you think. Everything’s going to go back to normal.

So if it’s all over, why does it hurt so bad? It’s shearing you apart, so why aren’t you dead yet?

Then the pain sets in. It’s too real to ignore now. Somebody, make it stop!

You grope around in the dark for an opening, a door, an escape- it should be there. Every feel of a shard opens up a new gash on your skin. Like an idiot, you hug at the infinite walls that surround you and yell for help. Scoop out handfuls of damp earth from the ground in a desperate attempt to escape. All the while crying like the little lost child you are. You tell yourself hopelessly that a time-turner is going appear any moment now, and you’ll be back in your living room again. Everything’s going to go back to normal.

But nothing happens, your calls for help are the only company you got. With that knowledge, you collapse onto the floor. You lie there for a while with your eyes still wet, thinking about the warm couch in your living room. It’s all gone. The dark, damp and debris are all that remain. You look around- Denial isn’t going to help, this will be your new ‘home’ now.

As if on cue, the cold ground kisses you, and somehow it doesn’t scare anymore. You acquiesce to what is perhaps the only show of affection the place has to offer. You slowly stop crying. You learn to see in the dark. The broken everything doesn’t cut you anymore, and the persistent prickling pain grows to be a part of you. It’s tricky, but you’ll learn when it’s your turn. *

Though your head blasts with a hundred, nay, a million questions, all the likes of “Why me?” you learn to embrace it. Life goes on. People pass you by from another world, smiling. “Everyone has battles”, probably answering that question in your head. Of course everyone does, you smile weakly. The ground kisses you again.

The dark doesn’t make you feel lonely anymore, the damp is as warm as it’ll be now on, and debris that perhaps if pieced together can paint a fraction, if not the whole picture that you once hoped to create. You remember some quote about black and white keys in a piano. You just never thought they could get SO black.

But you know what they say, Life is a jealous ass. Jealous of comfort in agony even. And just like that, Life kicks you out into the (regular) world, once again blinding you.

Though this time, it’s the sun, isn’t it? It has to be. What else could be so warm and bright?

It takes a moment to take it all in. The world is back. THE WORLD IS BACK!

You smile at first. It’s a weird little feeling, smiling like that after such a long time. Then it becomes a beaming grin. In no time, you’re jumping to catch the brilliant rays. You roll on the warm earth and laugh like a crazy old man. You lie on the soft grass and kick your arms and legs about like an ecstatic toddler. And everyone’s staring, everyone’s watching and maybe they all think you’ve lost it – and you know it doesn’t matter.

Because they didn’t see it when you were broken to pieces and plunged into a hole in the ground. They didn’t hear you scream and plead at lifeless walls that only echoed your cries for help. They didn’t see you curl up on the wet floor and hug yourself for warmth. They don’t know about the sleepless nights you spent, begging Life to go back in time, to make everything okay.

It’s not the world that’s come back. It’s you.

Some stories need a prelude to make sense. And some still won’t.

You slowly walk into your apartment. Everything is same in the world, yet you know nothing is from now on. Maybe the same things won’t bring joy to you anymore. Maybe the same people won’t mean company anymore. You have changed, you have grown and that’s okay. That is life.

You find the couch in its peaceful corner still. Blissfully unaware that you’ve been on a tumultuous journey that’s now a part of your past, that you’re spent and exhausted but mostly just happy to be back home.

As much as you’d love to cry your heart out into it, and recount in excruciating detail how you had to crawl your way slowly back up – All that can wait. Right now is time for the much-awaited lullaby and sleep.

And Life is beautiful, right there.



Edit : Somebody told me this article sounded like rap-lyric when read in haste. It is in fact about a time in when I was depressed and low. And perhaps a lot of it sounds cliche (now that I read it after some time, I can look at it objectively), but every line was penned with emotion to my own days.


%d bloggers like this: