In ’94, i got kicked out of the flat i was sharing with some guys and moved in with a friend’s uncle. Let us call him Chittappan.

He was a renaissance man, well read and worldly-wise, but a sentimentalist at the core. Loved mankind, but hated most men. Had a passion for drinking, driving and often drinking and driving. He had strong views on everything and articulated them for maximum bang.

He loved reading and books (there is a difference) and we had some great bashes discussing…books. I introduced him to Vonnegut (he never returned my copy of Vonnegut’s Fates Worse than Death), he guided me to Nabokov, Prisig and Prather.

Birdwatching was another shared interest of ours. I would literally swoon at every passing doe-eyed beaut and pant to Chittaps, “what eyes, man’ till the day he made that immortal pronouncement, “Babu, oru kannu kondu cheyyavunna valare korachu karyangale ollu” (rough translation: freak! watcha gonna do with e-y-e-s)

He was, to use the terminology of the era, belligerently Pro-Mandir & Anti-Mandal, but a closet secular and quite a big fan of integration.

I lived with him for only a few months and i count those days among my favourites in Chennai. Thanx Chittaps!

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