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Last Friday I was in B’lore, whataday – breakfast at Windsor Manor…

an afternoon to remember…

Dinner at Hard Rock Cafe

Midnight, landed in Chennai, no taxis, walked a kilometer for a rik. How Pushpak!

We grew up on a rich diet of diverse sounds – Bryan Adams, America, Beatles, Bread, Clapton, CCR, CSNY, Dire Straits, Purple, Doors, Dylan, Eagles, Elvis, Hendrix, Marley, Floyd, Queen, Santana, Simon & Garfunkel, Status Quo, Stones, Rod Stewart. Original cassettes were difficult to obtain and if you wanted to own a piece of music, you had to, um… pirate.

Stop, fast forward…I found a job, bought a lot of cassettes, happy…till the CDs came along. Then I started buying CDs, the usual suspects… Bryan Adams, America, Beatles, Bread, Clapton…there is a very fine line separating hobby and obsessive compulsive behaviour.

Last week I picked up Bob Marley Africa Unite Singles Collection. Started playing it and couldn’t stop grinning…lemme explain.

Many years ago, we were regulars at an LP-to-cassette joint on Broadway. Once, after getting Bob Marley Hits copied, I was noting down the song titles and I noticed the pretty shopgirl intently watching me write. Hmm…good…I wrote ‘Could You be Loved?’ and looked deep into her eyes…she blushed, and I bolted. But for many years after that, I could never walk down Broadway without humming, ‘could you be could you be could you be loved’.

Buffalo Soldier was another special track from the period and a concert staple, and it was Bobby who deciphered the song…

Buffalo Soldier uppu chaak uppu chaak
Dreadlock Rasta uppu chaak uppu chaak
There was a Buffalo Soldier uppu chaak uppu chaak,
in the heart of America uppu chaak uppu chaak

Serious! Listen here. The Sangham singing harmony…uppu chaak uppu chaak, now that is my fav concert memory.

Vaal kashnam: A Pullepady bhai sitting stoned on the rail track lost his legs to a train. Asked if he didn’t see/ hear the train coming, the loco drawled, “No, but loved the Rastaman Vibrations”. BHH.

Sangham at Mercy
Jose, Shibu, Biju, TV, Babu, Bobby & Diji.
We keep jamming at Mercy, but meeting Shibu after 25 years made this jam very special.
Below are our Maharaja’s College Ooty trip pics.

TV, Jose, Aby, Biju, Babu & Mookkan

TV, Jose, Babu & Shibu

Congrats! All the best!!

Ammankovil Road. My room was a 7 feet x 5 feet cell, with just enough space for a cot, table, chair and a book-shelf. It was in this room that i discovered s*x, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll. Below is a SketchUp reconstruction.

bk-room-120209’80s – Maharaja’s, REC
Lennon, Boss, Knofler, CSNY
Cowboy, Spiderman, Godfather, Abstract Art – Amerika phase




Bobby, Rojo, Top (top) and Mookkan


Late ’80s, Early ’90s. So many women, so little time…Anupama Varma, Mallika Sarabhai, Michelle Pfeiffer, Amala, Neelam Kothari, Brooke Shields, Anuradha Kapoor, Meenakshi Sheshadri, Mehr Jesia, Debra Winger, Poonam Gidwani…


Check out the survivors here


1989. After engineering and re-engineering, I decided to chase the great yem bee yae dream. Drew a blank in first half of the interview season, then suddenly three calls – IMT, BIM, and Anna U.


Osa and I flunked IMT, but the train journey was fun – highlight being the pavadakkari who fell heavily for Osa. BIM was a disaster. I told the panel that I wanted to do MBA because engineering sucks. All the panel members were, of course, engineers…


Anna interview. Stayed at Casa’s room in Sakthi Mansion, woke up to P. Orr & Sons jingle, brushed my teeth in pure salt water, took 23C to Anna…and became a Madrasi.


That day on Mount Road I saw Revathi. I figured stars on the sidewalk was an everyday thing in Madras…it would be 10 years before I saw another star in Madras, that was in Spencer’s, Revathi again.


Soon after I joined Anna U, Osa moved into Madras and Sakthi Mansion. It was just like old times, but after jamming and stuff, I had to trudge back to the hostel…I don’t remember why, perhaps Osa’s roomie hated me. Anyway, after a few months the roomie was out and Samy was in. The room had two cots, but of different heights. So whenever I slept over I ended up on the fault line between Osa and Samy. I spent so much time in the mansion that the owner threatened to send me a bill.


Around this time my senior Chacko invited his MIT-pal Puthu and his YMCA roomie Calicut Biju to join him at Anand Apartments…which would soon become the most hip joint in town…but then, that is another story.


By the end of the year, Osa was in Kolkata, Samy was in Cochin, and I started that kadavil njan maathramayi business…


Samy and Osa with Abby Paul, Dufai, 2007

A classmate of ours is a big corporate honcho in Mumbai. Last week when I heard that another friend was planning a trip to the city, I gave him the tycoon’s number.


കൂട്ടുകാരന്‍: നല്ല കാര്യം. അവന്‍ ഫോണ്‍ വിളിച്ചാല്‍ എടുക്കാതെ ഇരിക്കാമല്ലോ.


In a world where Satyam stands for anything but, I found an antique shop on MG Road, Kochi, with absolutely the right name. AAKRI-ti.


And a designer boutique on Marine Lines, Mumbai, with…absolutely the right name.


Names fascinate me. During the long Friday evening bus rides from REC to Cochin, when too dark to read, too bumpy to sleep, I used to play a game…I would select a random letter, say G, and in my mind compile an alphabetic list of celebrities whose surnames starts with that letter…Art Garfunkel, Ben Gazzara, Clark Gable, Danny Glover, Elliot Gould,…all the way up to Zsa Zsa Gabor. Then to the next letter…

I knew it could be developed into a parlour game…participants picking up random letters from two bins…I got a J and a C…umm…Johnny Cash, yippy…but taime kittiyilla.

Sangham had a name game inspired by Malayala Manorama’s ‘everybody who is somebody is a malayali’ theory – Arnold Shivasankaran, Manisha Kuruvilla, Pete Sambashivan, Boris Bharathan, Sunil G. Bhaskar, Kapil Devassy, Anil Kumbalam, Margaret Thachil, Al Kora. To the list my wife recently contributed Rya Nair.


Sajeev and I took this art form to a higher level in Chennai, awarding all our fav colleagues mallu names: Gupta – Guptan, Aggrawal – Abraham, Popat – Pappachan. And once Sajeev was transferred to Baroda, while talking to him from office, invention of nicknames for colleagues became a necessity. Our friend from Packaging was kuppi, his assistant was dappi; the heir apparent was Yuvraj, the also-ran was Kaif…I can’t reveal more, I happen to like my job.

While in Rajagiri, Biju was Chavali and TV was Thanivali…thankfully the names never stuck. Osa was Achayan and Bob was Cristo for a brief period. Diji, son of Rajappan – RA Japan – couldn’t escape being called Japan. We could never have called Varghese anything other than Mookkan, or Pattar anything other than Pattar. Philip, the only guy who could hit high notes, had to be Top.

While the most bizarre nickname of our generation was Chaly’s – KM-squared KKC (don’t ask) – the most appropriate one was reserved for Varkey’s friend Babu…a very unique character, an absolutely one-in-a-million guy…The Babu.

Friends of Rojo (son of ROsily and JOhn) always had colourful nicknames – Wheeler Pappan, Drummer Babu, Bolt Murali – but the award for the most colourful name would forever belong to Prof. Balasubramaniam from Chrompet…Chrome Balls (Honourable mention – a skinny lady lecturer in REC who was tagged Manchester).

Sona Chandy was my aunt’s student – in Hindi, sona means gold and chandi means silver. I haven’t come across another name that works so beautifully as a translingual pun – except, of course, Rosemary PO (roze meri piyo in Hindi means drink mine everyday). BHH.

Vaal Kashnam 1. 1988. Cricket-Bonji season. Mayan was Suni’s neighbour then. The cricket kit was kept at Mayan’s place and whoever reached the ground first would collect it from the house. One day Mibu was the early bird. By mistake he walked up to Suni’s house and rang the bell. 5.30 am, Suni’s father opened the door.

Mibu: Mayane vilikkamo?
Suni’s father: Enthina
Mibu: Kalikkana
Suni’s father: !@#$%^&*

Suni’s sister’s name is Maya.

Vaal Kashnam 2. A few after graduation, Pattar’s Manipal gang got together at a friend’s house. While they were watching old college/hostel videos on the living room TV, the host’s sis walked up to the TV-stand, bend down to pick up a book…and at exactly the same moment on the screen appeared the image of an old friend, and the entire room erupted…Kundi, Kundi, Kundi

The girl underwent therapy for many years…

The Hindu, Kochi, story here

Don’t miss the performance of the choral group ‘Rock of Ages’, with music director Jerry Amaldev, at 7.00pm on 22 November 2008 (Saturday) at Toc-H Indoor Stadium, Vyttila.

Western Classical, Pop, Country Western, Rock & Roll, Spiritual & hits of Jerry Amaldev.

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April 2021