Raju Bai, Tiger and Parattai.

 This is the story of how I got a handle bar changed for my two wheeler from a supposedly notorious locality in chennai.

Pudhupettai, is a name that will ring a bell to most vehicle owners in chennai. This place is known to stock the a to z of vehicle spares, new and used but mostly used. Movies and word of mouth don't paint a great picture of the place. The idea that Pudhupettai is dangerous and infested with criminals probably stems from the fact that the place once used to be notorious for dismantling stolen vehicles for it spares. I dont know, it probably still is.

It was you know one of those days that you really want to be alone, but dont know what to do when you are alone.

I took my two wheeler to Pudhupettai, wanting to explore the place and I had no idea of shopping from the place, I was just curious. The road is a single strech, with branching streets that are narrow, really narrow. I scaled the strech thrice and the first impressions were not great. I would be lying if I said I was comfortable. Most men were soiled, unkempt and dark.

I had long wanted to change my two wheelers handle bar to mimic those cruisers/choppers you see in the movies(ala The Terminator). I stopped at a shop that displayed one of those tall handles. The price was very low and I decided to change the handle bar on my vehicle.

I enquired at the nearest mechanic shop which was 'Anif's'. Selvam who attended to my vehicle, was one eyed; The other eye was simply there, the eye ball wouldn't move. Now Selvam said, the clutch and the brake cables were too short for the tall handle bar that I had selected and that I had to get longer cables.

The one eyed Selvam Bhai, I dont know why but everyone called everyone bhai, wanted me to get the cables from Raju bhai's shop around the corner.

Now the way to Raju bhais shop could well be a locale for the latest Hobbit movie. It was dark, dirty and narrow. This narrow path, had atleast twenty shops cramped in to a strech of not more than 100 feet and of about 5 feet width. The shops had everything from small bolts to engines, all used of course.

I was being stared at by atleast 10 men on the way to Raju Bhais shop which was the last one on the strech. Raju Bhai was a bald, old men who must be in his 50s. He was sitting in his at most 5 feet by 5 feet shop working on an old motor. He had all the cables I needed and some advice on installing the cables for a paltry sum.

I breathed hard on the way out of the strech, I was probably releived.

When I came back Selvam was talking to a old man who I think wore rags. The face was creased and the nerves stuck out, he had a hammer in his hand; his hand looked strong, hard and old. I was introduced to this old man Puli or Tiger. Puli was a scrap collector, all day he sat breaking down unusable spares for the metal. The nick name was for his stares, which I could swear was almost a tiger's.

I bought tea for Puli and selvam and Parattai joined us begging me for a glass of tea. Short, balding, dark, dirty with huge scar on his face, Parattai looked like the last man you would want to have trouble with.

Parattai was a self employed mechanic who worked on the road. He had no place and worked on the roads when he wanted money(How I wish). Looking around I saw a few more parratais with only a set of tools in their hands looking for the odd job.

Parattai thanked me and left to continue replacing the head lamps on a new Royal Enfield. For the few hours I was there, I never saw parattai without a cigerette on his lips.

Now my job at the shop was almost over, for a two hour job I thought I paid very little, but selvam seemed to be happy with the money I gave him.

May be this isnt the place that people make it out to be, I thought as I left Pudhupettai and that hard smell of fuel.


Usually only 1 team per hostel competed in the obstacle race at my school, but for some reason that year we were supposed to field 2 teams.

Our original team was like some all stars team, the strength of which was no secret. Apart from the stars there seemed to be no one remotely competent, who ever remained was unfit, either too fat or too thin or too tall or introverts or the types that find -lifting hands to swat mosquitoes- hard work.

Anyways I was in the no stars team, and before anything the word map of the obstacle course as it was called.

• The first step was a rope climb, probably about 20-25 feet which usually was easy, more so because it was the first step.
• The second obstacle was a walk on a flat plank which was as difficult as a walk in the park.
• The third was a six feel concrete wall, which too was easy with practice.
• The fourth was a three step jump again needing little effort.
• The fifth was the Tarzan rope; it involved a jump to hold on to a rope and to land on the other side of an 8-10 feet pit a la Tarzan.
• Then sixth step was a zigzag plank walk and the next one was a jump in to a 3 feet pit and climb.
• The 12 feet wall was the first real difficult step; it was a brick wall that had a few grips unlike the six feet wall. Usually help was allowed, that is people could climb on others shoulders to climb the wall.
• The ninth step was a 15-20 foot crawl through a barb wired fence.
• The 10th and usually the most difficult, was called the Burma Bridge, it involved a rope climb to a walk on the ropes holding ropes and finally to a climb down by another rope.

Though easy when tried alone, the Burma Bridge usually was the death knell for most competitors for one simple reason; by the time we reached this step we would be totally exhausted.

On a lot of instances we had competitors dangling from the metal frame unable to ascend and unwilling to come down as it would invite negative points.

Making the team was difficult and when we finally had a plausible eight we had little more than a week to go. We had one heavy weight, three feather weights, one -I can’t swat the mosquito- type and three average builds in the team.

We had vigorous practice sessions every evening though we practiced when there were not many people around, mostly to avoid the embarrassment, after all were seniors.

Apart from two feather weights and the dullard the team was not actually bad and in a few days even the three were seemingly better. It was decided two of us the average builds would trail or lead the others to support them.

The day finally arrived and as expected our first team almost rewrote the record books and it did little to my team's confidence.
For some reason I seemed to think the crowd or my whole school was smirking, heck even the staff at the start line was making fun of us.

We started off well, there were no qualms till the Tarzan rope, when I almost fell in to the pit but nevertheless managed to stay clear.

As planned I along with my other friend reached the 12 feet wall to help the team climb over us. Curiously after two attempts I needed a hand from my friend to climb the wall. When we finally climbed the wall after helping the other six I was happy to see one of my team mates complete the race, he was one of the feather weights!

Two of my team was over the bridge and not surprisingly more two were dangling from the bars of the bridge. Looking at them dangling and gasping for breath only hurt my neck. After a while we tried helping the dangling two climb the rope with our shoulders while we hung on the ropes.
Though seemingly heroic it did little and a part of my friend's palm skin was off, it was the ropes.

The one other person remaining apart from us two also had trouble in climbing the bridge, his weight or the lack of it helped me push him above the bridge with my shoulders.

Unmindful of his now bleeding hands my friend that mad man completed the race before me.
In all we had 3 disqualifications and our timing was the second last.

Surprisingly when our not so impressive second last position was announced we had more than a warm round of applause from the crowd.

Thankfully that was the last time we ever had to make a second team.

I wear

I must have been six or seven years old when I got this liking to glasses/coolers or eye gear to be precisely complete. The first time I ever laid eyes on one, I wanted to own one, it was a 2 Rupee yellow pair of shades.

I used to walk to my mom's office after school through a market place, it was more of a vegetable market but one of those shops had these glasses, they had like 5-6 colors. The shop was about half a kilometer away from my Mom's office and all I could make up during the walk was, I was losing my eye sight.

Even today my Mom remembers that very day to the color of the shades and especially my claim that my eye sight got better with that yellow eye gear.

Well that was just the start because as early as the times when there was just one ophthalmologist in my home town I started frequenting eye hospitals. I went on to visit ophthalmologists as often as I could, often changing doctors and hoping at some point of time my eye sight would degrade by at least 0.25 diopters.

Though the perennial yellow tint of my eyes helped fuel my visits to the doctor, my eye sight was near perfect all the while and I ended up with bottles of eye drops and pills.

And then there was this wrestling craze that swept my school. World wrestling federation or WWF as it was known at that time exposed me to funkier shades like the one Bret 'the hit man' hart sported.
Sadly neither my pocket money nor my travel expenses were enough to support me with sun glasses. I always ended up with some cheap replica which lasted for a few days or hurt my eyes.

Some where between college and school I found a doctor who found my eyesight below perfect and I had my first genuine pair of glasses. I did not use it for the fear that it might hurt my chances of entry to the defence forces.

After college when I began to work I could at last walk in to an optical and order a pair of zero power glasses with 'anti glare'.
I should have been alone, because one of my friends bargained with the optician and I ended up with a cheaper, eye hurting, crooked pair of glasses. I went back to my original pair of glasses which by then were old fashioned.

The first thing that I ever asked my sister who went to work on an overseas software project last year was a pair of shades.

too many cop movies ? I dont konw but right now the craze is lingering on Aviator model sun glasses.

I actually found the courage to purchase a genuine pair a few months ago though my state at that time was 'inebriated' to say the least.

what next? I dont know.. may be the 'coolers' that my sister is sending me soon.


She called me like the third time this week; I was over the moon because I am only entitled to one call a week and also because today was the 14th of February.
“Shall we run away?” I asked her before she even spoke, before even thinking it could be her mother.
“You are out of your mind”, thank fully it was her.
“Because, if you don’t remember, we are already engaged”, she said with some mock anger.
“Yes, I remember how can I forget the 14th of October? The day I lost my freedom” I tried with some mock sadness.
There was some silence
“I would have laughed if you had actually said the correct date” she said after a pause.

There was plenty of silence before we spoke again.
“I actually thought I should send you some flowers today, you know like the filmi types” I tried starting a conversation.
“Oh my God, don’t even think of it” she said with out even a pause.
“I cannot do that? I cannot send flowers to the girl I am engaged to?” I retorted.
“No” “why?”
“Because you should not”
“And why is that?”
“I don’t know, because no one has ever sent me flowers before”
“Isn’t that the point?”
“Is it? I don’t know but I am scared”
“Scared of what, receiving flowers?
“No err yes”
“Oh! okay, I am sorry I am not sending you any flowers”
I heard a sigh of relief. “Better” she said.
“I am coming over myself with a big bunch of flowers tomorrow”

Another pause followed and again I had to kick start things..
“You know what? My sister is arranging our honey moon”
She did not say a thing
“She is getting tickets to Mauritius” not that I was serious.
“What is Mauritius?”
“It is an Island country down south, you know below Sri Lanka and Lakswadeep?” I wished I was right.
“I don’t know”
“What ever, we will start like two days after the marriage”
“Because I have never been on a plane before”
“So what? I have been on a plane only once”
“Why don’t you go alone?”
“Alone” “yes” “on our honeymoon” “yes”
“Wonderful” I needed a breather.
“Maha?” “Yes”
“Do you realize you have never been married before?”, I waited.
“Oh my god, no, I mean yes”
“And we are getting married this summer” I completed
“I am actually scared and ..”
“nooooo” this time it was me.

Theory of creativity.

What is with the advertisements on television these days?

Anyways I hate advertisements.
And there is this one channel that is being relayed in my place, it has advertisements all over it, you wouldn't believe me if I told you there was a song playing underneath.

and the creativity in advertisements these days seems to have touched the peak (or the trough take your pick). Men wooing women seems to be the only original plot the so called creative advertisement makers can at the most think of.

For instance, if you have this bike and even if you look like a pig without a snout and with hair women will invariably swarm around you like flies in a sty and especially for the gayest looking bike in the world. OMG!! the ad even went on to show a woman hiding her kids to stamp her singularity. Not one girl has ever looked at my bike, and in my place a lot of them seem to prefer bald men on those World War II Enfields.

Sample this one, you have a bottle of that cool looking I-only-take-it-for-gastritis soft drink and you will give the world gems like cheating on two girls at once or leave your friend with a dog while you play whatever with her.

Use not one but two body sprays that smell individually like some cheap whisky mixed with old dettol mixed with some washing powder mixed with some lemon flavor and see what happens, women will bump in to each other to get exactly the alien you wanted to bed. I can’t stand most women’s perfume by the way, especially the times when I share the lift ewwww.

Tooth paste, bah a bloody tooth paste can get you girls (police women in some cases) gorgeous than Scarlett. I. Johansson and none of them I have tried (I mean the tooth pastes) have even taken the stench of previous evening’s drink away, but you guess you will have to give it to the creative minds here, what a thought.

Cars, Watches, sun glasses, look-at-it-loose-your-eye-sight suits, chocolates and mint candies (ZOMG things that cost 50ps), condoms (why??), hair-gel, razors (Salman Rushdie is a living proof we don’t need razors and hair-gel, he just hit the nth hot girl of his life), underwear and there are still more single men in the world than you can ever imagine.

I am only thanking the world these things have not happened for itch-guard, ring guard, scissors (add your imagination here), cigarettes, ear buds and other filth that I am not going to word.

The next thing I am going to do is ask at least one girl what she feels after watching those creative master pieces and I am going to do it from a little distance, just in case…

Last statement

I stumbled upon the Texas Department of Criminal Justice website through Reddit.

I browsed through the pages that had the last statements of convicts before they executed; they range from pleading innocence to repenting to praying to being funny and to so much else. I am just clueless as to what to write to say the very least..

A few of the statements in no necessary order...

Last statement:
Jennifer, where are you at? I'm sorry, I did not know the man but for a few seconds before I shot him. It was done out of fear, stupidity, and immaturity. It wasn't until I got locked up and saw the newspaper. I saw his face and his smile and I knew he was a good man. I am sorry for all your family and my disrespect - he deserved better. Sorry Gus. I hope all the best for you and your daughters. I hope you have happiness from here on out. Quit the heroin and methadone. I love you dad, Devin, and Walt. We're done Warden.

Last statement:
I do. I am sorry. I have always been sorry. It is the worst mistake that I ever made in my whole life. Not because I am here, but because of what I did and I hurt a lot of people - you, and my family. I am sorry; I have always been sorry. I am sorry. You look after each other. I love you all. Be there for one another. Alright. But I am sorry; very sorry. I love you too. Alright.

Last Statement: (only a part of)
And to the Mitchell family: I truely am sorry for the tragedy that took place on Nov 11, 85. Thats all I can give you. Thats all I will give you. Because today your making my family and loved ones a victim just as you have cried to the world you were in this tragedy. I did not deliberately shoot James Mitchell. I had no premeditation in my thoughts when I spun around and fired, no matter how many fantasy motives Clayton and Sherrod fabricated. So today my family becomes a victim. You know, the truth sets you free, and the truth is, if your loved one had acted with any professionalism at all, he would be alive today! And thats all I got to say about it.

Last statement: (only a part of)
I would like to say that I did not kill Bobby Lambert. That I'm an innocent black man that is being murdered. This is a lynching that is happening in America tonight. There's overwhelming and compelling evidence of my defense that has never been heard in any court of America. What is happening here is an outrage for any civilized country to anybody anywhere to look at what's happening here is wrong.
I thank all of the people that have rallied to my cause. They've been standing in support of me. Who have finished with me.
I say to Mr. Lambert's family, I did not kill Bobby Lambert. You are pursuing the execution of an innocent man.

Last statement:
Yes, I do. I thank the Lord for giving me my friends, for getting me the ones I love. Lord reach down and help innocent men on death row (lists names). I said I was going to tell a joke. Death has set me free. That's the biggest joke, I deserve this. And the other joke is I am not Patrick Bryan Knight, and ya'll can't stop this execution now. Go ahead, I'm finished. Come on, tell me Lord. I love you Melyssa, take care of that little monster for me.

Last statement:
Yes, I do. First of all, I want you to understand I speak the truth when I say I didn’t kill your kids. Honestly I have not killed anyone. I wish you could get the rage from your hearts and you could see the truth and get rid of the hatred.
I love you all – (names of children) – Corey, Steve (garbled) – This is very important. I love ya’ll and I miss ya’ll. O.K., now I’m finished.

Last Statement:
I want to say God forgives as I forgive. God is the greatest. Thank you.

Last statement: (a part of)
I’m not ready to go, but I have no choice; I sent several letters to my family; they’ll be very moving when you get them. I want to say goodbye again to my boys. I know I’m missing somebody, but if there’s anything I have left to say, it would be that I wish I had a Shakespearean vocabulary, but since I was raised in TDC, I missed out on some of my vocabulary.
If my words can persuade you to discontinue this practice of executing people, please do so. If the citizens don’t do away with the death penalty, Texas won’t be a safe place to be. I have no revenge because hate won’t solve anything.

Last statement:
I am innocent, innocent, innocent. Make no mistake about this; I owe society nothing. Continue the struggle for human rights, helping those who are innocent, especially Mr. Graham. I am an innocent man, and something very wrong is taking place tonight. May God bless you all. I am ready.

Last statement:
Yes sir, Warden Okay I've been hanging around this popsicle stand way too long. Before I leave, I want to tell you all. When I die, bury me deep, lay two speakers at my feet, put some headphones on my head and rock and roll me when I'm dead. I'll see you in Heaven someday. That's all Warden.

Last Statement:
Statement to what. State What. I am not guilty of the charge of capital murder. Steal me and my family's money. My truth will always be my truth. There is no kin and no friend; no fear what you do to me. No kin to you undertaker. Murderer. [Portion of statement omitted due to profanity] Get my money. Give me my rights. Give me my rights. Give me my rights. Give me my life back.

Last Statement:
I would like for Rosalyn's family and loved ones and my wife, Mary's, family to know that I am genuinely sorry for what I did. I would like you to reach down in your hearts and forgive me. There is no excuse for what I did. Rosalyn's mother asked me at the trial, "Why?" and I do not have a good reason for it. Please forgive me. As for my friends and family here - thanks for sticking with me and know that I love you and will take part of you with me. I would like to thank one of the arresting officers that I would have killed if I could have. He gave me CPR, saved my life, and gave me a chance to get my life right. I know I will see Mary and Rosalyn tonight. I love you all.

Last Statement:
I love you, Mom. Goodbye.

love story ??

I don't think I can ever forget that particular day when I fell of my bicycle, it was the first time I brought down some one else with me. She still does not know why she wanted to accompany me to the shop that day. I think I was 14 and she was probably 10 and I was taking a vacation at her place. Once we fell all I wanted to do was ask her not to tell her parents or her sisters; she promised me she wouldn't.

She walked in to her house crying.

I rarely saw her or talked to her again for probably the next 8 years, mostly because I was always away studying from hostels and partly for a while because I was angry she complained. The next time I spoke to her I had already started to work. She was with her parents at my apartment that I shared with my friend. We never spoke to each other then I think. She still remembers that poster of 'Aishwariya Rai' that decorated my closet then.

She very recently told me why she was laughing all the while that day.

It must have been at least an year before I spoke to her again, we actually spoke a few times and one fine day she was crying to me for some reason she did not want to tell me. I was happy not because she was crying but because I thought she took me in to confidence. I gave her a few books and a Clint Eastwood movie collection a few days afterward.

Again very recently she told me she was already crying when I called her over a petty quarrel with her best friend and it had nothing to do with taking me in to confidence or what ever.

Girls (women?) came and left my life all the while; good friends, very good friends, silent admirers, very vocal haters, one girl I loved and one girl who loved me, to cut a very long story short.
Two more years passed before I talked to her again, this time I was at her house for something about her sister's marriage.

She suggested me to get a haircut and a good shave.

Two years of my mother asking me to get married, her parents pushing me a little, and some weird things had me almost getting married to her elder sister; at least that was what I thought for a whole night. To my own disbelief I attended her elder sister's marriage, though a little flustered. That was when I saw her standing a little away from her elder sister, obviously uncomfortable with the crowd, the cameras and lighting. For a moment it was like one of those 80s movies, everything else was blurry, and she was at the centre of the blur, bright and beautiful in a flowery yellow salwar.

For no reason I suddenly walked up to her to say something and all I could muster was the courage to say 'goodbye Maha', damn. That was probably the first time I called her by her name and probably the 10th time I had ever spoken to her and possibly my first word to her in 3 years.

That evening I told my mother I wanted to get married.

Everyone thinks I was always in love with her, stupid but it helps cover my weird story..

My long day

I don't wake up to my alarm; I wake up to the TV, one of my very sensitive room mates blares it on like he is stone deaf. Mumbling filth I wait because this guy who has to leave after 3 hours is using the washroom.

My pressed white shirt's gone, courtesy my another friend, I dust up some old shi(r)t. My shoes are missing because another one of my roomies uses it, but he is not mean, he only uses it on Fridays.

Nobody stays before the stop line at the traffic signal, women don't wear helmet but they sport gloves protecting their skin, precious. Some Greek period bike is always smoking in front me and the car exactly behind me has the loudest horn and the moron keeps using it. Just as the lights turn green, some retard invariably walks across, still talking on his/her mobile phone.

My bike begins to chuck-chuck very soon but there is a petrol station around. I stick on to end of the four bike long queue; an old man leap frogs us to the beginning of the queue, wow. The guy who fills air keeps spitting all around him even as he goes around the car in front of me, I don't fill air. He is better, because there are guys who stick their heads out of moving vehicles to spit.

At least one dumb guy is crossing the road looking exactly away from the one way road; my horn doesn't turn him an inch. At the peak hours, at least one vehicle has an 'L' board on it and he/she drives just like it’s his/her first time.

I get no help at work but there is always help inside the conference hall and only when someone is questioning my approach. I take half an hour off work to service my friend's mobile, and the girl at the service center spends 10 minutes on her mobile before she entertains me, still on her phone.

At lunch, people jump queues at the hand wash, precious few seconds I guess. The guy exactly in front of me licks his hand clean to finish his lunch. A little away from the hotel, men stand peeing; I guess that happens with every first wall they come across when they have to pee.

At the ATM on the way there is a small queue, there are two people inside beside a placard that requests people to use ATMs alone, this guy is actually teaching her to use the ATM, while 5 of us wait outside.

The next in the queue are these two girls who start to open their hand bags inside the ATM, after a minute of frantic searching one of them finds her card, she double checks her balance before withdrawing money and neatly placing it inside her bag, she takes her time to keep the card back in to her bag and has a look at the mirror inside the bag; the process exactly repeats with the other girl. And that is the longest sentence I have ever written.

I am back to work and luckily nothing eventual happens before I leave. Its dark and almost all vehicles in front of me are using their lights on high beam, isn’t that one of the lessons at the driving school, I don't know because I did little for my driving license. There is at least one unmanned junction that has four cars perpendicular to each other and honking bringing to halt traffic from all four directions.

By the time I reach my house, there are not many hotels open and I eat at a place and pay a bill my father would probably call 'audacious'.

I somehow manage to finish my long day and get to bed only to find my friend beside me snoring!!