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After two years in exile we are back in Ammankovil Road. Do drop in…


The bombs were supposed to go off at 7.00 pm; I had a train to catch at 7.05. I reached Ernakulam North by 6 and at the entrance I saw a group of cops talking to a man carrying something that looked like a bazooka-in-a-bag. Wow! the cops have caught a bomber…wowowow, gotta get out before he turns into a suicide-bomber. Outside the station, there were many Odiyas waiting for the Howdah Mail, mounts of unattended luggage and the typical railway station low-life – perhaps the platforms would be safer.


By the time I got back to the station, the bazooka had morphed into a metal detector, the cops were standing around admiring their handwork, and mallus were streaming into the platform, sniggering at the metal detector and anybody who walked through it.


The platform was crowded – the usual mix of IT kids, grand parents, vadakkans-on-honeymoon, commuters and the ubiquitous Odiyans – and the crowd looked strangely unaffected by the seven o’clock shadow. I walked to where S5 would stop, facing the unsecured car park, decided it is not safe, and started walking up and down the platform… it should be more difficult to hit a moving target. After the third lap, I suddenly remembered  ‘An Appointment in Samara’ and plonked down on a bench.


A certain merchant in Baghdad sent his servant to the market to buy some provisions. A little while later, the servant returned looking white in the face. In a trembling voice he said, “Just now in the market place I was jostled by a man in the crowd, and when I turned I saw it was Mr. Death. He looked at me and made a threatening gesture. Please lend me your horse, because I want to go to Samara where Mr. Death will not be able to find me.”


The merchant agreed and lent the scared man his horse. The servant mounted the horse and rode away as fast as the animal could gallop. Later that day, the merchant went down to the market place and saw Mr. Death standing in the crowd. He approached him and said, “Why did you make a threatening gesture to my servant when you saw him this morning?”


“That was not a threatening gesture,” said Mr. Death. “It was only a start of surprise. I was astonished to see him in Baghdad, because I have an appointment with him tonight in Samara.”


The journey was fun. Our coupe was a PC version of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Ms.White went off to sleep after Palghat and the jawan (Grumpy) ordered lights out. I was Happy, the buzz from the afternoon beers had returned with the adrenalin draining, and slept like a baby till Basin Bridge. By the time I stepped out of the coach at Central, the crowd was already marching towards the exit, I also fell in, humming M-I-C-K-E-Y  M-O-U-S-E…

Sangham get-together at Mercy’s new terrace restaurant that offers a view of the…shipyard. (I kind of prefer the old terrace restaurant that faces HDFC. There is this water tank with black legs on top of HDFC. When the legs disappear and the tank starts floating, you know it is time to go home.)


At Mercy 2, the crowd is more cosmopolitan and genteel. There are fewer tables with the pool taking up most of the space, but service is slow…and as recommended by old Kochi hands we order three rounds together and the Nepali waiter isn’t surprised.


We stick to the time-tested koodal format. Reminisces about trips and trippings, crushes and crashes, we crib about Mooks and call up Lineman. Peanut masala arrives (one hour late) and Rojobhai starts the Vackachan stories…Santhosh Trophy, Three pegs = 3 am, Wedding Cake…Osa proposes a trip to Dubai, with pondatti in oor and all that, Biju is keen but I am not too sure…


We pile out by midnight – Biju, Diji, Jose, Mac, Pattar, Rojo, Varkey and yours truly – to take our chances with the cops/ autobhais/ wives.


Bonus: Check out Mercy’s brochure. Very Hotel California

These mallus!

Was the title font of Satyam, the new Vishal movie about an upright cop, inspired by Satya, RGV’s underworld classic? Guess we will never know the ‘other side of the truth’

“I received a letter this morning from a young stranger named John Figler, of Crown Point, Indiana…


…John Figler is a law-abiding high-school student. He says in his letter that he has read almost everything of mine and is now prepared to state the single idea that lies at the core of my life’s work so far. The words are his: “Love may fail, but courtesy will prevail.”


This seems true to me – and complete. So I am now in the abashed condition, five days after my fifty-sixth birthday, of realizing that I needn’t have bothered to write several books. A seven-word telegram would have done the job.




That was Kurt Vonnegut in Jailbird.


Last week a stranger who read my blog ‘end-to-end’ summed me up as follows:

  • A great friend of your friends
  • You love yourself
  • Young at heart
  • Loves your son dearly and probably his mother too
  • Used to be a flirt, now like the company of women
  • Like wine and dine
  • Lazy
  • You’ve a good sense of humour
  • A voracious reader
  • A movie buff
  • Lover of music
  • A happy soul at the end of the day

I needn’t have bothered to write all those posts. A dozen bullet points would have done the job.


Thanks for being around…

Steel bars branded ARS (there is a connection there that I would rather not pursue), a bike called SUSU, a builder who is simply pissing against the wind…

Doctor…enikku vivaham kazhikkan pattumo doctor…

Bonus: Rorschach Test

My STC class pics posted on this blog (links: here and here) a few months ago drew enthusiastic response from nostalgic alumni…

  • Do you know what happened to___?
  • Would you have the address of ___?
  • Is Miss ___ still around?
  • I was ___’s classmate in high school…
  • We are planning an STC alumni lunch, would you like to join?
  • I was in IV B, can you lend me some money…

I realised there were all these people who wanted to hear from, or at least, about, their old classmates – and they were all banking on me! The obvious thing to do was to post information about the school Alumni Association on the blog.


I convinced a junior (she kept on insisting that she was anti-social) to drop in at the school to collect the details…anticlimax…the LP School doesn’t have an alumni association. The good news is that the school maintains a database of alumni addresses going back to the ‘60s. Wow! OK, most of the addresses would not be valid, yet something to start with.


I decided to launch an alumni association for St. Teresa’s Convent LP School. By then Anti-social – let us call her Sonya – had de-volunteered, and I turned to Sangham.


Typical responses (I did not make these up):

  • “You want to jam with 42-year old women? Count me in if the daughters would come”
  • “Hey, I always wanted to find out if ___ took that finger out of his nose”
  • “The ‘girls’ would be more worried about the grandchild’s primary class than their own”
  • “The guys would all be battling mid-life crises (MLC) – except of course, the super successes. I wouldn’t want to meet any superstars, and the MLC cases would not want to meet anybody
  • “Wow! I would do anything to meet that hot ___ once again”

One of the more articulate juniors, a blogger-in-waiting, mailed me her vision of the primary school alumni get-together. Over to her…“A hall full of grown ups, more men than women; some chirpy, some nervous, some with their spouses, some without. One of the organizers announces that it was time for introductions. Each goes to the stage and gives a brief intro. Applause follows… or some comments. Some listen, some do not. Some of them who knew each other before have already formed themselves into groups and are busy talking. After that food is served. They all eat amidst some small talk. End of the reunion.


End of Alumni Plans.

Yohan, Annie’s brother’s kid, born on 25 June 2008.

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July 2008