How I grew up on hand-me-downs and friendly gestures

Much before folks in the Internet space discussed ‘share economy’ over drinks, and much before it was cool to use products such as Airbnb, BlaBlaCar, Fon etc. there were ‘hand-me-downs’.

This is the story of how the first version of the ‘share economy’ played out in my life.

Here goes…

I think it all started when I was growing up too fast for the comfort of my parents.

Before I tell you how me growing up troubled my parents, let me tell you how I interpreted my growth.

For long I didn’t realise that I was growing up.

I thought my clothes were getting smaller.

That’s why I kept my red and white shirt (one that I proudly wore when I was four years old) for two years thinking someday it would shrink enough to fit my brown teddy bear (yet another hand-me-down).

Alas, it never did.

Since I was growing up fast, my parents bought clothes for me only on Diwali and on my birthday – on April 26.

They ensured at least one well-fitting pair every six months.

Due to their this strategy, any given day I owned two sets of clothes – one that was a perfect fit and another that I couldn’t go out in.

The hand-me-downs begin

When I was five years old, I came to know that I had older cousins, staying in different parts of Madurai, Tamil Nadu.

Eventually, we started meeting during summer vacations.

And I started getting the hand me downs.

My cousins would pack their old clothes and toys in an airbag (that’s what our parents called their travel bags) and pass them on to me.

My parents wouldn’t let me open the bag in front of my cousins fearing I would immediately get into a war dance and embarrass them.

Needless to say, that night I wouldn’t be able to sleep.

I would stay awake wondering what kind of clothes were inside the bag, what toys were waiting to be picked up, what coloured shoes were available to be worn.

Thanks to my cousins, I used to have a choice while going outside or staying at home and playing with my toys.

With time, I also started sharing my clothes and toys with younger cousins.

Sharing felt good because I knew exactly how I had felt when I used to get the treasure trove.

Uncles start chipping in

When I grew up and became a teenager, I started getting hand-me-downs from my uncles.

Now, my uncles would share their shirts and trousers with me.

Sometimes, it would be part of the yearly ritual and on other occasions, it would be a specific request.

Like the instance when I had to participate in a debating contest at LOSA competition (conducted by Lakshmi Old School Association every year) at Madurai and needed a good trouser to go with my black shirt.

“Saravana mama, I need help.” I approached my uncle.

I had been eyeing his stonewash jean for some time now.

He had recently finished his BSc Forestry from Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, Coimbatore and was looking for a job.

“Tell me, Rajan.”

“Will you be wearing your stonewash jean tomorrow?” I asked.

“Which one are you talking about? And why?”

“The white stonewash with black dots? The one that has ‘Love is sweet poison’ written on both sides of the trouser?”

Mind you it was 1991 and we were talking about a stonewash of a college grad, so ‘Love is sweet poison’ can be excused.

“But why do you need it? I wore it yesterday and it is dirty.”

“I am participating in a debating contest tomorrow and will be on stage. I need a good trouser to go with my black shirt.”

That’s all my uncle needed to hear.

He asked me to come by in the evening and pick it up.

When I went to his house at 7 pm, he was ironing it for me.

I didn’t win the debating contest, but the pride with which I stood on the stage that day was enough – I had already won.

I never returned the stonewash, and he didn’t ask for it either.

I get a hand-me-down moped

When I joined college, I asked my father for a TVS Champ.

Back in the mid-90s, if you were a cool dude in a Tamil Nadu college, you rode a TVS Champ.

If you were filthy rich, you had a Hero Honda Splendor…but lets not jump ahead of us.

Since my parents couldn’t afford a TVS Champ, they resorted to their tried and tested trick.

“Why don’t you try the public bus for the first year and if you score well you get a TVS Champ?”

TVS Champ - the ride of the 1990s
TVS Champ, the most popular ride for a college-going Tamil boy in the early 1990s. Image: tvschamp.blogspot.in

Since I didn’t have an option I agreed.

Next year when my parents still couldn’t afford a TVS Champ for me, I was disappointed.

One of my uncles stepped in.

“I heard you are pretty upset with your parents over a TVS Champ?” He asked.

“Yes, uncle. They promised to get it for me this year. I know that it costs a bit, but they shouldn’t have given me the hope. Right?” It was my teenage angst.

“I am planning to buy a Hero Honda Splendour. Why don’t you use my TVS 50? It may not be what you want, but it still is something,” he said.

If the sun was coming out of the clouds, it surely was very bright.

“Sure uncle. So how much do my parents have to pay?”

“Let us just agree that you will not ask your parents for petrol money.”

He had the patronizing look in his eyes, which I loved.

For don’t we all want Godfathers to spring out and help when we need them?

TVS Motors had launched India’s first two–seater 50cc moped called TVS 50 in 1980.

TVS 50 wasn’t as classy as TVS Champ, but like my uncle said it was something – it felt as if I had arrived.

TVS 50
TVS 50 was more for adults, especially merchants who had to carry heavy load. Yet, this moped was a sweet hand me down, which I rode proudly for many years. Image: www.team-bhp.com

I rode the 15-year-old moped to college often.

Due to lack of petrol money the TVS 50 would be parked most of the time, but it felt awesome to have a moped of my own.

When I almost breached the hand-me-down code

With time, I finished college and started working.

Now, I was earning and still using the same TVS 50.

It is surprising how your wants come down when you have to figure them out yourself.

I had been working only six months when I got a call at my office landline from a cousin of mine who was still in college.

He was point blank: “I have sports day at college tomorrow and my sneakers have given up. Can I borrow yours?”

In a momentary lapse of judgment, I told him: “How about buying new ones. I only have one.”

My cousin didn’t say anything. The phone went dead.

It didn’t take me long to figure out that I had made a mistake.

I had broken the code of hand-me-downs.

If you have joined this club once, you can never refuse.

I knew he wouldn’t be rushing to the showroom to buy new sneakers anytime soon.

Next day at 7.30 am I was at his home.

He was getting ready for college and he was holding an Action shoe which had run its course.

In my hands, I had the relatively new Lotto sneakers my father had helped me buy from the CSD canteen.

As I gave him the sneakers, I said “Here, take it.”

I didn’t display any emotion.

I couldn’t afford to display the ‘big brother’ emotion.

It was part of the hand-me-down code.

At that moment, me giving him the Lotto sneaker meant the whole world to my cousin.

He gave me a big hug and at that moment I knew that I had bought his soul with this small gesture.

After the event, he called to ask when he could visit to give the shoes back.

I knew he needed it more than me, so told him I was traveling and would collect it later.

This give and take went on for some time.

Thanks to the growing economy and excellent job opportunities in different cities the big, almost-joint family drifted apart.

Or is it that only I drifted apart and all others are still in touch?

Perhaps, I would never know.

Unfortunately, today hand-me-downs are looked down upon.

They are only supposed to be for those affected by floods or earthquakes – they aren’t supposed to be for cousins, brothers, and sisters.

They aren’t supposed to be for friends and neighbors. Quite a shame, really.

That’s a lot of happiness, bottled down. So much treasure, undiscovered.

eMail conversation between husband and wife

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Here is an actual email conversation that happened between my wife and me. Please understand that to make it an interesting read I have included a few fight scenes, a few romance scenes and a few song and dance sequences.

Do note, this is not a sex conversation between a husband and wife. To be honest, we are married, and hence this is anything but a sex chat. 😉

Date: 7 January, 2017
Time: 7.00 pm IST
From: Rekha [Rekha@filmyworld.com]
To: Jammy [jv.rajan@gmail.com]

Subject: Late?

Are you going to be late today too?

Regards,
Rekha

———X——–X———

Date: 7 January, 2017
Time: 7.09 pm IST
From: Jammy [jv.rajan@gmail.com]
To: Rekha [Rekha@filmyworld.com]

Subject: Re: Late?

Yes sweetheart. What about you? You are late too? 😉

Cheers,
Jammy

———X——–X———

Date: 7 January, 2017
Time: 7.15 pm IST
From: Rekha [Rekha@filmyworld.com]
To: Jammy [jv.rajan@gmail.com]

Subject: Re: Re: Late?

Yes sweetheart.

BTW, hope you have dropped the cheque, sorted out the water heater, and taken the Demand Draft in my father’s name?

*Didn’t like the sarcasm in your mail.

Regards,
Rekha

———X——–X———

Date: 7 January, 2017
Time: 7.29 pm IST
From: Jammy [jv.rajan@gmail.com]
To: Rekha [Rekha@filmyworld.com]

Subject: Re: Re: Re: Late?

I was not at all sarcastic. Was just enquiring…for our daughter Rhea will be home alone till we reach.

*Yes, taken a DD for your father.

Cheers,
Jammy

———X——–X———

Date: 7 January, 2017
Time: 7.15 pm IST
From: Rekha [Rekha@filmyworld.com]
To: Jammy [jv.rajan@gmail.com]

Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: Late?

I didn’t like the way you reduced the DD for my father to a mere footnote.

BTW, I wanted to know what time you will be reaching coz I want you to have a word with our 3-year-old daughter tonight.

Regards,
Rekha

———X——–X———

Date: 7 January, 2017
Time: 7.34 pm IST
From: Jammy [jv.rajan@gmail.com]
To: Rekha [Rekha@filmyworld.com]

Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Late?

A word with our three-year-old daughter? What? She has come home with a tattoo? Or did someone in leather jackets and a Harley drop her home last evening? What happened?

*Nope! I didn’t reduce the DD for your father to a mere footnote. Trust me, I didn’t swear when I was withdrawing the Rs 25,000 for the DD.

Cheers,
Jammy

———X——–X———

Date: 7 January, 2017
Time: 7.45 pm IST
From: Rekha [Rekha@filmyworld.com]
To: Jammy [jv.rajan@gmail.com]

Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Late?

Your daughter has changed her boy friend again – for the third time in the last five months. I want her to behave like a good family girl – not be some flower-power girl from the 70s. And definitely not like her father.

I will be late today, but can you catch her attention before she hits the bed today and have a word with her?

Regards,
Rekha

———X——–X———

Date: 7 January, 2017
Time: 7.34 pm IST
From: Jammy [jv.rajan@gmail.com]
To: Rekha [Rekha@filmyworld.com]

Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Late?

Will do. But what do I tell her? I have no idea how a woman decides on her boyfriends. If I couldn’t read you in 15 years, how do you expect to read my daughter in 3 years?

*Will try anyway. Will update later.

Cheers,
Jammy

———X——–X———

Date: 8 January, 2017
Time: 5.25 pm IST
From: Rekha [Rekha@filmyworld.com]
To: Jammy [jv.rajan@gmail.com]

Subject: Thought I might as well change the subject

Any updates? Sorry was tied up…couldn’t check on your talk with the daughter earlier.

*What time did you come in last night? And when did you leave?

Regards,
Rekha

———X——–X———

Date: 8 January, 2017
Time: 6.03 pm IST
From: Jammy [jv.rajan@gmail.com]
To: Rekha [Rekha@filmyworld.com]

Subject: Re: Thought I might as well change the subject

The talk went well. She argued back – said something that sounded like “blubber blubber clutter putter.” Whatever she said made sense.

*Came in at 1 am and left home again at 6.30 a.m. By the way, I noticed somebody well-built sleeping with you in our Queen-sized bed. Who was it?

Cheers,
Jammy

———X——–X———

Date: 8 January, 2017
Time: 5.37 pm IST
From: Rekha [Rekha@filmyworld.com]
To: Jammy [jv.rajan@gmail.com]

Subject: Re: Re: Thought I might as well change the subject

That’s somebody I love, but you have no idea about it. I am not surprised. You know so little about me anyway.

Regards,
Rekha

———X——–X———

Date: 8 January, 2017
Time: 6.14 pm IST
From: Jammy [jv.rajan@gmail.com]
To: Rekha [Rekha@filmyworld.com]

Subject: Re: Re: Re: Thought I might as well change the subject

What? When did you plan to break the news to me? What about our daughter – I definitely would want custody of her.

Where does he work anyway? Does he make more money than I do?

*Remember, Demand Drafts for your father won’t be part of the alimony

Cheers,
Jammy

———X——–X———

Date: 8 January, 2017
Time: 5.37 pm IST
From: Rekha [Rekha@filmyworld.com]
To: Jammy [jv.rajan@gmail.com]

Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: Thought I might as well change the subject

Stupid! That was your mother, and my mother-in-law. And how easily divorce-talk comes to you. Are you seeing anybody? Is it that Mansi girl in your office?

*And yes, thanks to the Demand Drafts we send your mother, she is well built.

Regards,
Rekha
———X——–X———

Date: 8 January, 2017
Time: 6.14 pm IST
From: Jammy [jv.rajan@gmail.com]
To: Rekha [Rekha@filmyworld.com]

Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Thought I might as well change the subject

Ohh! That was my mother?! When did she land up?

And I agree, we now-a-days only speak thro’ emails. How about a call?

*Mansi quit. Aditi now manages our Social Media.

Cheers,
Jammy

———X——–X———

Date: 8 January, 2017
Time: 6.45 pm IST
From: Rekha [Rekha@filmyworld.com]
To: Jammy [jv.rajan@gmail.com]

Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Thought I might as well change the subject

Yeah…call is good. How about 9 p.m.? Will be in my car, on my way back then.

*And is this Aditi also pretty?

Regards,
Rekha

———X——–X———

Date: 8 January, 2017
Time: 7.04 pm IST
From: Jammy [jv.rajan@gmail.com]
To: Rekha [Rekha@filmyworld.com]

Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Thought I might as well change the subject

9 pm works for me too. Will be in my car heading for a business dinner with some investors.

Sending you a meeting invite & the conference call details now.

*Aditi is pretty. But she is married and has a kid as well.

Cheers,
Jammy

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———X——–X———

Date: 8 January, 2017
Time: 7.45 pm IST
From: Rekha [Rekha@filmyworld.com]
To: Jammy [jv.rajan@gmail.com]

Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Thought I might as well change the subject

Marriage and Kids have never stopped you from flirting before. Why do I have this feeling that you might upload this conversation onto the Internet?

*Been ages since I visited your website. Stopped being a regular visitor once the quality of the articles started going down.

Regards,
Rekha

———X——–X———

Date: 8 January, 2017
Time: 8.16 pm IST
From: Jammy [jv.rajan@gmail.com]
To: Rekha [Rekha@filmyworld.com]

Subject: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Thought I might as well change the subject

Please accept the meeting invite I just sent. You are right about this going onto the Internet. Don’t visit my website it till I tell you that a good article has been uploaded.

Now-a-days, we don’t talk often, so let us be punctual for the call.

*Darn! This Aditi wears such revealing clothes!

Cheers,
Jammy

Note: If you came here thinking this was going to be a sex chat between a couple, I am sure you are pretty disappointed. But hey, you lasted this long. Maybe you do have a funny bone after all. Check out our other funny articles.

How to manipulate a woman

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Sometime back I had written an article titled ‘How to manipulate a man`. That was darn easy – just give him sex, I had advised. But today when I sit down to write on how to manipulate a woman, I know it will be difficult task. I might fail to deliver (expected, isn`t it? On which planet do men deliver?) so please bear with me. After all, the first question ‘what women want` still remains unanswered.

Before you start trying to manipulate a woman to like you or love you, you need to understand your girl better. You need to understand how her mind works, and thats exactly what I am going to tell you first.

Women need security. She has two issues to sort before she is even willing to let you get close enough so you can attempt a manipulation.

1) Is she feeling safe with you?

2) Is she feeling safe from the World when she is with you?

Remember, this is why a woman never falls in love at first sight. One doesn`t get to know the bank balance at first sight.

If your answer to the above two questions is ‘Yes` you are my star and you have every right to continue reading this article. Other men may as well pick up the latest PlayBoy and head to their favorite corner.

What politicians are to the citizens of a democracy, men are to the women. We never vote for the best politician for there aren`t any. We always end up voting for the least corrupt. Similarly, women are forced to choose the one who is least likely to mess up their lives – which is anyway going around and around in cycles. Period. I hope you got the bloody joke!

It is this need for security that makes a woman prefer the guy who offered to pay the bill, even if he took her to a cheap restaurant. Never walk into the restaurant and say magnanimously: “We will go Dutch…but I will take care of the tip myself.” This just might tip the scales in favour of the guy she has been keeping aside as Plan B.

Then again, taking her to a restaurant and paying the bill might NOT make her trust you. She might start thinking, “This guy takes me to a restaurant, and pays for my dinner. Something is definitely fishy!”

If she wasn`t already on guard with you, this act of yours will put her on guard. You might not be able to read her mind, but she can read 100s of permutations & combinations into your single smile.

Mind you, women are always on guard, which helps them in their search for ‘security`. In a way, we men have made the women such experts in sensing the dangers nearby.

Just so you know the Indian Navy has decided to give up its gender bias and plans to use women’s ability to sense dangers. Plan is to have at least one woman in every sea going submarine. These women will have to look out for dangers under the sea. Navy has SONAR etc but apparently they aren`t as effective. The bill hasn`t been passed in the Parliament yet and our MPs are debating Indian Navy`s suggestion that the women be tied to the nose of the submarine.

Anyway, getting back to the topic…once you have won over her confidence and you have made her feel safe with you and from the World, she is ready to be manipulated.

My dear men (women, you still reading?), there are two things you need to know about a woman:

1) Women have the inherent need to know everything

2) Women love to be flattered

Women have this inner need to know everything about the man they are interested in or have ended up marrying. Talk to her…not just about cricket scores or the latest youtube video you saw. Talk to her about what you did in office, what you ate for lunch, what you spoke of when you met your colleagues in the loo, what you were thinking while driving your car back from office, what her mother in law thinks of her, what her sister in law said about her…just about everything.

On the Flattery front, here are a few stock sentences that you can use to flatter her and once she is flattered, you can manipulate the hell out of her. Remember, you are dealing with a person with a seventh sense for security so be careful.

1) Are you dieting? Or is it the gym? You are definitely losing weight

2) Where did you get that skirt? Goes really well with those shoes.

3) Did you do something to your hair today? I notice an extra bounce.

4) I was walking just behind you and guess what, when you walked past that bus stop everybody turned their head.

5) You have such nice skin. What do you do?

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There are certain things you should never tell a woman. Even if it sounds ok to you, as a man. Sentences like:

1) If I were only half as good looking as you are…I would be your company`s CEO.

2) You have such nice skin. Wish I had that too. Darn these rashes!

3) Where did you get that skirt? Would love to see them crushed on the floor.

4) What deo do you use? I was walking just behind you and when you walked past that bus stop…all the men fainted.

5) Did you do something to your hair today? I am an extra dosage on your shirt today

While you try these out on the women in your lives, let me do the same. With some luck, I just might succeed.

How I became a better student at school

This is the story of how I became a better student. My schools had no role to play in me becoming a better student. It was all my skills, my talent, and my hard work. I promise. Don’t believe me? Read on –

During my initial days in school, my father always compared me to the Prithvi missile, which was designed and developed by Defence Research and Development Organization. I don’t know what my father’s reasoning was…but I guess it had something to do with the fact that Prithvi missile never hit its intended target. (Update: After many years of trials, it did start hitting the targets. Just like me.)

“You are just like that surface-to-surface missile, Prithvi. Can’t even find Pakistan,” he would say.

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It wasn’t always my mistake that my father got called to the school often. Like that time when the teacher asked me that dogs question. She said: “Rajan if I give you two dogs and then give you two more dogs…how many dogs would you have?”

I said: “Five Dogs.”

The teacher asked this question many times and every time my answer was five. I think after the seventh attempt, she lost her cool and called in my father. My father’s answer was ‘Four Dogs’ and even after I reminded him that we already had a dog at home, and the correct answer was ‘Five Dogs’ he only gave me a stare.

I think I was in Kendriya Vidyalaya No 2, Jalandhar, Punjab then – in the 1st standard. The moment we got my first standard results (I passed), he said we would be moving to Kholapur in Maharashtra.

“Papa, why are we moving? Have you been transferred?” I asked him.

“No, I wanted to put you in a stricter school and that’s why we are moving.” He replied without looking up.

Once in Kholapur, I was admitted to Seventh Day Adventist (SDA) School. The first day changed everything – they took me to a hall where they had publicly nailed one student on a giant plus sign.

Just to confirm, I asked the student sitting next to me: “Why do you think that guy has been nailed to a big plus and hung on the wall?”

He replied: “Maybe, he failed maths. Why else, would they nail him on a big plus.”

I thanked God that he hadn’t failed English. Imagine being nailed to an ‘A’ – a nail thro’ the head for sure.

I didn’t want to meet the same fate and ended up becoming the best student the school had ever seen. Now, I could get my progress report signed on the same day it was given to me by my teachers – not because I was getting good marks, but because now my classmates had stopped borrowing it to scare their parents.

By now I had realized that the lesser activities I did in school, the lesser my chances of making mistakes, and thus even lesser my chances of being nailed and hung on the wall. When one makes lesser mistakes, one becomes a better student.

In order to limit the activities, I avoided eye contact with teachers and when they asked me to do anything I would re-confirm if they were talking to me.

I think I was in the fourth standard when I became the favorite student of my English teacher. She had spent the last 15 minutes waiting for one of us to give two examples of the pronoun. I tried hard to avoid eye-contact but after 15 minutes, my turn did come. She asked: “You over there….give me two examples of a pronoun.”

I was quite. I didn’t look up.

She came closer, and said: “Hellow…you…look up and give me two examples of a pronoun.”

I had no choice but to look up. I looked at her, looked behind, and looked on both my sides and then looked back at the teacher and asked: “Who? Me?”

The teacher went ecstatic. Since then I became her favorite student. Unfortunately, we left SDA when I got my fourth standard results.

Story of why toilets should find mention in your daily prayer

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What you are going to read happened in a small town called Sivakasi, in Tamil Nadu, way back in the 1980s. 1989 to be precise.

For those who don’t know, Sivakasi is a hyper active town with a population of less than 5 lakhs yet supplying 90% of all firecrackers, 80% of all safety matches and more than 50% of all offset printing in India.

I was 14 years old – all of these 14 years were spent in cities such as Jamshedpur, Jalandhar, Kolkata and Kolhapur. On the fateful year – 1989 to be precise, my parents decided that I should spend some time with my maternal uncle’s family. My uncle’s name was Mahalingam. He owned a paper shop, from where offset printers bought all kinds of paper.

Mahalingam uncle and my aunt considered me as a ‘City Boy’ who needed a lot of help adjusting to life in Sivakasi. They tried their very best to make my 15-day stay as comfortable as possible. Unfortunately, they couldn’t help me with one thing – toilets. Back then, houses in Sivakasi didn’t have toilets. Yes, you read it right, they didn’t have toilets. The folks in Sivakasi were so busy working (mind you Jawahar Lal Nehru called Sivakasi the ‘Little Japan’ of India) that they found allocating space to toilets, an unnecessary wastage.

As a result, my uncle’s house also didn’t have a toilet. To top it, he lived in the center of the city. As we move forward in this article you will understand why the location of his house needs a mention.

Finding out that there was no toilet in the house

Within 30 minutes of landing in their house, I asked: “Uncle, washroom?”

“Number one or number two?” He enquired.

“Just tell me….I don’t want you to know what I am going to do inside,” I replied in jest.

“Son, it depends. Tell me, number one or number two?”

“Hmm…number one.”

“Just head out on to the next lane and hang around till nobody is passing by. The best time for this is between 2 pm to 4 pm…the siesta time.”

“Whattttt?” I just couldn’t believe my ears.

My uncle smiled.

“Don’t worry, we have a better arrangement for number two.” I could see that he was confident that his solution for number two was better than that for number one.

“And what if it were number two?”

“In that case, here take this one rupee coin and head straight for the R.M.S Road, the very next street. They have a public toilet there.”

I couldn’t believe my ears. I shot back a shocked, “Really?”

My uncle didn’t read my expression right or maybe he decided to ignore it, and continued, “Once you spot the public toilet, look for a guy sitting outside with a table in front of him and lots of one rupee coins on the table. Just give him your one rupee and he will allow you inside.”

“Whattttt?” Again, I just couldn’t believe my ears.

Fate had struck twice within the span of 30 seconds. And struck at my genitals. It wasn’t going to be easy getting up.

Getting used to a life without toilets

With a heavy heart, I walked out of the house, onto the next lane and waited for it to be empty (it was a long wait)…and then emptied my bladder. The moment I was back, my uncle, aunt and their three children were waiting to ask me how it went. To add insult to injury, they were smiling.

That day, I didn’t drink too much water but still had to rush out at 7 pm. It was a little easier – in the darkness I could merge with the surroundings better. Now I was an expert. The next day, I would go on and explore new lanes and new time slots. More on that later.

At around 8 pm, it struck me that I should also be worried about the next day morning. What about number two? So, I had a very light dinner. It surprised my aunt that a 14-year-old had such bad appetite. “City boys, I tell you,” she complained.

But I wasn’t willing to risk emptying my bowels in my trousers.

At 11 pm, I managed to sleep off the fear. But it was back again when I got up at 6 am. I moved around the house slowly lest I trigger some bowel movements. I refused the tea my aunt gave me saying I wasn’t into drinking tea. She couldn’t believe it but I was adamant.

The morning ritual in a public toilet

At 6.30 am, my uncle said I could accompany him to the public toilet – this was quite a relief because I was (and still am) very bad at directions and it would have taken me at least an hour to find R.M.S Road, even if it was the next street.

Both of us walked out of the V.K.M street, and walked 1 kilometer to reach the R.M.S street. The whole distance I tried to maintain a balanced walk, lest I triggered any intestinal movements. I tried not to laugh at my uncle’s jokes, which tend to upset him a bit but I didn’t care. Honor before anything else.

Once we reach R.M.S Road I noticed that there were only three public toilets, because of which there was a queue. One could also take bath (though thankfully, in my uncle’s house there was a place to take bath) and put on some makeup in front of the wall-mounted mirror. The cashier took my Rs 1 and allowed me entry.

As I walked in, I saw many men smoking cigarettes outside trying to build up the pressure. It also helped that there was a tea stall right next to the public toilets – men who needed a tea to build the force inside could help themselves.

My first public toilet experience was a huge success. I was in and out in less than two minutes. The cashier smiled when he saw me return and asked me to come back the next day – and why not, after all it is the two-minute customers like me whom he would prefer for a bountiful business.

On the way back we bought groceries for the day, from the grocery shop nearby.

And then my stomach revolted

The next day my uncle didn’t accompany me. Since I wasn’t an earning member, I would ask my uncle for Rs 1 and walk out of the house on my daily chore. It was that simple. The next three days went well. In fact, I had started to enjoy the new experience. It was all fine, I told myself. Or at least that is what I thought.

But on the fourth-day tragedy struck…the moment I came out of the toilet after spending my Rs 1, my stomach started mumbling again and I had this urge to go back immediately.

“Hi Sir, I just paid you Rs 1 and came out early. Can I go again please?”

“No Sir, for Rs 1 there is only one entry. To enter again, you need to pay me another rupee.”

I wouldn’t say I walked back with a heavy heart, it was, in fact, a heavy stomach that I walked back home with, asked my uncle for another rupee and walked all the way back to the public toilet to relieve myself. I came back to my uncle’s house a dejected man but a man who had understood the importance of Rs 1.

Being adventurous in toilet-less Sivakasi

This went on for a few days (I had started going there with Rs 2, just in case) and soon enough the royalty wore off. During a casual chat with my uncle on the subject, I asked him: “Is this the only place one can go to?”

“No…there are a couple of other options as well. But I thought you might not be so adventurous.”

This pricked the ego of this Rajan. We Rajans are egotists and we don’t take insults sitting down (pun intended). So, I replied: “You haven’t tried me yet, uncle.”

He continued looking into his sheaf of papers and said: “OK then, be ready tomorrow at 6 am. I would suggest you eat a light dinner.”

The next day we had a visitor at 6 am. It was my uncle’s friend Manikam. The three of us took off at about 6.15 am for an adventurous dump taking. Once I started asking questions, I came to know that we were going to an almost dried up lake in the outskirts of the city (Sivakasi is a small city and you can walk your way out of it). We were to take a dump in the lake, wash up in the yet-to-dry parts of the lake and come back home.

As luck would have it, this lake was 3 kms away and I was tired by the time we reached. But when we reached, it was heavenly….a wide expanse of dried up land with little bushes sprinkled all around. Once we were almost in the middle of the dried up lake, my uncle advised me to take a spot behind one of the bushes and relieve myself. The very next moment, he and his friend vanished, probably behind some bushes.

I looked around, found a thickset bush, went behind it and sat down. The next two minutes were very peaceful. There was nobody in sight, just the chirruping of the birds. Just when I was about to get up I heard some women talking and the voices grew louder with time. It took me a while to figure out that they were right behind me. They were walking towards me.

I had two choices – stay put and pretend nothing happened or get up and stand right in the middle of nowhere pretending I was doing something else. I chose the first option.

Now the voices were really close, and that is when I heard: “Why doesn’t he get up? He is still sitting.”

They were talking about me!

But I held my ground. Now they were probably 15 meters behind me.

Within seconds I could see them from the corner of my right eye. My uncle hadn’t advised me on the appropriate behavior in such instances. I held my ground…I continued to sit. For psychological comfort, I even closed my eyes.

I heard one woman ask the other: “Do you think he is blind?”

The other replied: “Even if he was blind, I am sure he can hear us. Too much of a coincidence that he is both blind and deaf.”

Now I didn’t need to look thro’ the corner of my eye – they had passed me and were now ahead of me. I could see them thro’ the bushes. I continued to hold my ground.

Before they disappeared, the first woman told the second: “Men nowadays…can’t they get up when they see women approaching? Phew!”

Now I knew why the women were upset…but it was too late to get up.

Later my uncle confirmed that Rule Number one of taking a dump in the lake is ‘Get up & pull your trousers up when you see a woman.’

For the next seven days, I preferred the public toilets.

It has been twenty years since, but even today my attached toilet finds a mention in my daily prayer.

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Conversation between an Indian man and a British woman

My father often told me: “The son never sits in the British Empire.” As a result, I forced myself to work hard – getting up at 5 am and going to bed at 10 pm – and achieving a lot of things as I grew into a full-blown-up man. My father is no more, but I still don’t sit.

My world came down crashing when yesterday I realized that my father had been saying the line wrong. It is actually: “The sun never sets in the British Empire.”

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This post is about the British, who treated us like slaves but left behind a nice railway system so that the likes of Laloo Prasad Yadavs and Mamta Banerjees could give their relatives free lifetime passes.

With a renewed interest in the British Empire, I looked up my contacts list and found a British friend named Rosemarie Sutherland. I called her up and here is the discussion that happened:

“Hey Rosemarie, how are you doing? Long time, eh?” I enquired.

“Blooming blighter, where have you been all these days?” She did seem excited.

“I have been good. Now….am married with a four-year-old child. So, this call isn’t about phone sex.”

“That’s great! Hope all well. Why the sudden call?” She wanted to get to the point as soon as possible.

“Well, actually…wanted to speak to you about the British Empire. My father always said ‘The sun never sets in the British Empire’….what did he mean by that?” I also didn’t want to waste any of her time.

“Your father was bloody right. God wouldn’t trust a Britisher in the dark…so he didn’t let the sun set on our Empire.”

“Seriously?” She had caught me by the balls, by her this statement.

“Yes, true. Did you think we were patriotic warriors? No! We wanted to escape the bollocks weather here in Britain…always rainy & foggy….so left the shores and enslaved countries like yours for the warm weather.”

“Very brave & intelligent move.” I was all appreciative of the Englishmen now.

“Not really. If we were intelligent, why did we give away all of our empire and keep England? We should have kept the rest of the good countries & given England.” She knew what she was talking about.

“So, besides all the wealth you guys plundered…you also got to stay in warm weather. Anything else you gained in the process?”

Rosemarie was quiet for a few seconds & then responded: “Bugger…you are missing out the Butter chicken…and…hmm…tandoori chicken.”

“Ahh! Didn’t think of that. By the way, how is your royalty? How are they adjusting to the fact that they no longer have the whole world at their feet?”

“The Royalty is gormless. More like unstained teeth in a decaying mouth.”

I had always wondered why Kate & William hadn’t come to India to start their married life with a visit to the Vaishno Devi mata temple in North India. Rosemarie’s statement explained it…they were just gormless. Whatever it meant.

“So does your royalty have any regrets?” I persisted.

“Well, that blighter queen has only one regret – that she didn’t climb over the Buckingham Palace fence to watch a movie when she could. Now she is too old for that.”

“And do you commoners have any regrets about the Royalty?” I asked an innocent question.

“Not really. We only get excited for three things – soccer matches, beating up the immigrants & discussing the royalty….so no…we don’t hate our royalty.”

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I had one last question, besides my ISD bill was going up with every second, so I quickly asked Rosemarie: “Anything, you want to ask me?”

Rosemarie was quick at her feet: “Yes….I want to know if you guys benefited from us.”

“Definitely…though Great Britain was a Nosey Parker, you guys did unite us, give us the railway system and the English language.”

“Now don’t you go off your rocker and start thanking us.” She definitely hated her country.

“Sure Rosemarie. Thanks for your time. And have a good wet, foggy day!”

“Wait…wait don’t hang up as yet. I have one last question. Do you have titles such as Lord, Sir, Prince, Princess, or Dame to differentiate between the class & the cattle?

“Hmm…no we don’t have such titles. But we do have red beacons that differentiate the class from the cattle. OK then, catch you sometime later. Bye.”

Click.

Origin of those funny messages behind Indian trucks

There has always been a huge communication problem between men and women in India – and the issue is more prevalent amongst men and women who own trucks. It is usual for women to not feel the need to stop and for men to not feel the need to start – talking, that is.

This inability to communicate has taken totally different dimension in the last 50 years or so. OK, let me not keep the suspense any longer.

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Yesterday I broke into the trusted circle of Women Truck owners, and was let in on a 50-year old secret – that men and women have been communicating with each other by writing messages on the back of the trucks they owned.

I asked the Lady truck owner who had let me in on the secret, “How did it all begin?” Thats when she narrated the whole story.

She said: ” Way back in 1960, we Indian women were a bit traditional and shy and our Truck owning husbands had one major crib – they weren’t getting enough blow jobs.”

“And then?” I enquired.

“That is when the Truck Owners Association of Men figured out a way to communicate it to their wives – they decided to write ‘Blow Horn’ behind their trucks.”

“How did that help?” I was confused.

“You see the Indian men were shy too. Back then, our trucks used to be backed up in front of our houses and all the wives could see this message aimed at them every day.”

Brilliant idea, I thought to myself. And to ensure she didn’t stop I asked her: “How did you guys respond to that?”

“We also have a Truckers Association for Women…and we decided to respond with an appropriate message – we wrote ‘Keep Distance’ behind our trucks and let them lose on the roads.”

It was interesting. The women were retaliating. I couldn’t let her stop now, so I asked: “And then?”

“The obnoxious creatures that men are, they responded back by writing ‘Use Dipper at Night.’
You need to understand that by now, the war of words had spilled over to our houses as well.” I could see the anger writ large on the woman’s face.

“Did you guys get what the men meant by ‘Use Dipper at Night’? And did it help turn around the marital life?” I goaded her.

“We understood what they meant. But it made marital life worse. We women decided to not give them any sex for months.”

“And then?” I was finding it difficult to keep a straight face.

“Then, what we waited. And when we didn’t get any reply for six months, to rub it in, we got ‘Horn OK Please’ painted on our trucks…questioning them if their so called HORN was OK.”

“Wow…did this help? The men would have got angry?”

“Bullshit…they came back to us on all fours – not exactly all fours, but still. As an apology they got ‘we two ours two’ painted on their trucks.”

“And then? Did that bring the men and women together?” I asked her.

At my question the lady smiled. Apparently after reading this message, the women understood that their husbands were back on track and wanted to raise a cute little family with their wives. Needless to say, everybody was back together again and lived happily ever after.

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Poem: On how Rekha & I got married

This is less of a poem and more of a ballad. This is the story of how Rekha and I met, our evil intentions, and how Rekha turned the tables on me.

How I brought your mother back

When I first saw her,
She was wearing something blue.
I thought: “I will take her out,
And all my dreams will come true.”

Back then,
My dreams weren’t that good.
Lunch was at Velu Military Hotel*,
Little costly, but my wallet withstood.

Tipping a magnanimous Rs 5,
On my Yamaha, off we went.
I dropped her at her hostel,
Two hours well spent.

“Which way do you go to office?”
She asked as I kicked my bike to a start.
“Via your hostel, everyday”
Was my reply, very smart.

“Here is my number,” she said.
And I gave her mine.
I corrected myself on the bike,
And off I rode; on the seat a stiff spine.

Ah! Will take her around for six months,
And then dump her.
One more month to find another girl,
And into her ears, my love I will purr!

The next day, she called me at eight.
Five months and twenty-nine days to go.
Many such days went by,
Finally, it was only one more day to stow.

Rekha beat me to it. She asked:
“Rajan, shouldn’t we get married?”
“What? No way!” I replied.
“I am dude. Love, I have never carried!”

I was somebody who believed in quickies,
With Rekha cut off, I was happy.
I could now look for another girl.
But for no reason, I started feeling scrappy!

Rekha refused to see me.
Far apart we grew.
Single again,
I looked for a girl to woo.

That’s when office gossip told me:
Somebody from Lowe Lintas was the bridegroom.
Rekha was to meet him,
In Hotel Sangeeta’s Family Room.

“How could this happen?” I asked my roomie.
He only let out a smirk.
I drank four beers.
And got to work.

I rang her father, but didn’t have the balls.
I called Rekha 17 times, but she didn’t answer.
I reached the hotel, and waited outside.
Jealousy filled me like cancer.

After an hour,
They came out. Shook hands.
He got her an auto & got in too.
The Earth below me turned to sands.

He dropped her at her hostel.
I had followed. From safe distance.
I was drunk with both beer & love.
This double drunk needed assistance.

After smoking five cigarettes outside,
I rode my Yamaha home.
Got into my bed and cried.
“I want Rekha as my bride!”

Next day, I told her.
What a fool I was to refuse her.
I apologized.
“Let us get married. I concur.”

She refused to accept my apology.
But quietly refused that Lintas groom.
It took me six more months,
Before Rekha would give me any room.

Six months later, she sat on my bike
I was love struck.
I didn’t want anybody else,
She was my lady luck!

After one more year of pleading
She agreed to marry this boy.
We were one happy couple.
I was Achilles and she my Helen of Troy.

It has been fifteen years since we met.
There have been ups and downs.
We aren’t that young anymore,
And have both gained our pounds.

But even today,
When I leave for office,
I kiss her on her forehead.
And that’s as good as my day would get.

No, wait!
That was before I became a house-husband,
Now she goes to office and gives me a list,
And if I do them right,
In the evening, I get kissed.

Important: Rekha, if you are reading this you should know that your husband didn’t have enough money to buy you the World but tried his best. If only his girl friend had lent him some money he would have got you a nice, expensive gift. But that bitch refused!

*Velu Military Hotel still exists at Nungambakkam, Chennai and its specialty is the way they show available non-vegetarian dishes for you to choose. To see their display, click here.