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My academic performance followed a sinusoidal curve; a high was always followed by a low – and it was quite a roller coaster ride for my folks. In the high school, when the Eapens and Urumeses got serious about studies – and when I discovered books big time – my rank, which always hovered around 4, dipped to the early teens. But I recovered in time for SSLC.

Pre-Degree in Maharaja’s was quite unlike Rajagiri. The faculty didn’t care if you attended the classes, no tests, no report cards. Heaven. And while the Sangham averaged 98% in the first year, all I could manage was 98 out of 140. (The day after the results broke, when we were hanging out near the cycle stand, Panku of Physics came over and enquired about our marks. Biju, Jose, TV, everybody went 97, 98, speaking percentages of course. When my turn came, I said ‘98’…bwah!)

bijub.jpgBijubhai, Feb 1981 

Second year was much better thanks to Biju who made me join the classes of Iyer Sir and Ramaswamy Sir. Along with the second year stuff, I ‘improved’ my first year papers also. Finally the big day…results…and the college office refused to hand over my marksheet as I did not have my hall ticket. After much wrangling, they agreed to issue the marksheet if I produced my first year marksheet. I rushed home, picked up my old marksheet, got back and collected my new marksheet – 94%, boo haa haa.

I bounced out of the room, and in front of my batchmates who had witnessed the whole drama, tore my old marksheet to pieces, and threw it into the wind. I believe the crowd applauded…

A low was right around the corner; I flunked Engineering Entrance.

A short glossary. Mainstream media has since adopted many of these…
(New entries highlighted)

Shappadu – Grub
Sabhalatha – Crap
Poth – Sleep
Pushti Shappadu, Pushti Sabhalatha, Pushti Poth – Our guiding principles
King – Expert
Prince – Getting there…
Petti pack – fresh
6 – A form of transportation
Culpable homicide not amounting to manslaughter – ’80s driving style
Ketido – Concert speakers
Thickness – Measure of crowd density in a bus
Addendum diddendum dish – Mech Engineer’s drum roll
Used to be my life was just Timoshenko and Young – MS1 Theme Song
Jaam session, panchi panchi – Ritual chant to get into mood
Kilivathil – After-hours booze shop
Sea King – Before-hours booze shop
Second Show – Mercy
Maraambal, Pambu, Anaconda – Stages of soberness
Cheettukali – An attempt to reach 50% of bill amount, practised in bars, etc.
Usth – A form of entertainment
Ustad – An expert in the above, as in Ustad Jabbar Patel
VK – Servant
Onth – Ugly babe
Vawwals – Acrobats
Bonji – Lime Soda
Please Rice – I will have rice, preferably Staff Rice
Bhai – All purpose suffix, as in Rojobhai, bouncerbhai, etc.
Lissy – Heroine of the movie that my friend’s cousin’s neighbour saw last week
Boo Haa Haa – All purpose greeting

I might have missed out many words & phrases. Contributions are welcome. Boo Haa Haa

Once, the night before a 3rd sem exam, when black coffee and cold showers couldn’t keep us awake, Vinu, Pattar and I tried a desperate measure – ‘dry shave’, hoping the cuts and nicks will ward off sleep long enough for us to read our portions. It didn’t work for me – FM became the first paper I ‘skooted’

For Vinu, shaving at 3 am in the dark B hostel loo was definitely a moment of epiphany – he cleaned up his act and never mugged with me again!

Kochi is drowning in garbage.

Had Nostradamus predicted a plague in this little-known quatrain?

When the Queen’s land turns black of aspect
In twice thousand and seven,
It will enter, wicked, unpleasant, infamous
And take many of her sect to heaven.

Top corporates in India were invited for the Monkey Challenge 2007. Round I – there was a monkey seated on the dais and everybody was asked to make it laugh. Infy, TCS, etc. tried, no success. Guys from _____ (insert your company name here) whispered something in the monkey’s ear and the monkey guffawed its head off. Round II, the challenge was to make the monkey cry. Infy, TCS, etc. ditto. My company successful again. Third round. The task was to make the monkey run off. Other companies drew a blank again. Our guys spoke to the monkey, and it just vanished.

Everybody wanted to know what our guys had told the monkey.

“In the first round, we told the monkey we are working for _______, in the second round we told them our salary”

And in the last round? “We told the monkey we are hiring”

Story contributed by Biju. I had a small session with Biju and Bobby this Sunday. Wish you were there.


Pattar’s wedding. Crazy bash in Trivandrum Club. Early morning muhurtham. Guess only Mookkan reached the hall in time. After the wedding we pushed off to Munnar. 7331 and Jose’s car. For most of the journey, Biju was sleeping (he was driving, of course); he was finding it difficult to sleep when somebody else drove.

We stayed in some PWD guest house. Another big night – ‘I saw the Sign’ was the flavour of the season. Next morning, we were so exited to see a koladu that we almost drove off the cliff; round the next curve, 100 kolads…

That was Sangham’s last big trip. Jobs, marriages, whatever…we never went on a ‘big’ trip after that – perhaps it is time we did. What say?

Pradeep was called Pattar because my Cochin friend Pradeep was called Pattar (He was a pattar, but Pradeep was a Nair). He was from Bombay (Lucky Star Apartments. I remember all the addresses – Sudhag, KR 181, Puzhamudi, Mt. Wardha, Koodal – but have no idea what I had for lunch). My fav memories about Pattar include the game of ‘paru soap’ and the bharatmatrimony stunt he and Jaggu played in the final year.

Now, I am not sure if this really happened or of if this is a false memory – Did Pattar and I actually meet the Princi to request a day’s off when Gurdayal Singh failed to turn up after the 1988 Delhi riots? (Gurdayal did return; he fell to his death from MB 3rd floor in the final year. RIP Sardar).

News about a building collapse in Borivali triggered this post, now I remember.


Manassariyum Yanthram, the first book that i borrowed from Rajagiri library, started off a romance with books and libraries that continues to the day.

Last month i saw the book in DC Books, Cochin, and it was like running into a long-lost friend…

I was always in touch with Vinu, except for that brief while when he went back to REC (and you know what happened to him there). Over the years, whenever we jammed, we would talk about Paramu’s whereabouts – he had this habit of disappearing from our batch radar every few years.

Then two years ago, Paramu resurfaced in Chennai. It was like old times, we dropped in at Vinu’s place at midnight, woke up Paul at 2 am, partied till dawn – too bad Kathi was not around…


The more we change…
Civil Suresh, Appappan, Paramu, Babu, Vinu, Outside D-321, 1987

I was a big fan of Raju Nair’s Mavelinadu cartoon in Deepika. That was a good 20 years ago. Then a few months ago, i bought ‘Raju Nair Cartoon Kathakal’. Great cocktail of cartoons and stories – a must buy…

(Available at




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July 2007