Story of why toilets should find mention in your daily prayer

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.


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.”

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.”

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.”



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.


Australian Zebra Finch Birds – my first pet at age 35 years

Rekha has never liked animals. Or birds for that matter. Or fish. She would eat them, but to see them alive give her the creeps.

You probably ask, “If she was so allergic to animals, how come she married you?” Well, my answer is that before marriage I did behave like a human.

Though there were times when she called me a Dog. You got to give it to Rekha for being appropriate – she never addressed me as a dog in front of strangers & relatives. It was reserved for occasions when we were alone – especially when we were in the bedroom.

“You are a dog. Can’t you understand a simple ‘No’?”

“Why are you behaving like a street dog? I am your wife….behave like a gentleman.”

Till the day I decided to get a German Shepherd in the house, I didn’t know that Rekha hated animals. Unfortunately, the only questions I had asked her before our marriage were:

“How much money can your parents pay me if I get married to you?”

“How much money does your father have?”

“Do you have any younger sisters, if yes, is she pretty?”

“How many of your kins do we have to divide your father’s wealth with?”

As happens with most husbands, before marriage I didn’t asked the most important question: “Do you like animals in the house?”

I have always wanted to have pets at home. As a child our parents had trouble feeding the three of us – me and my two sisters – so they didn’t prefer pets. The moment I got a job and became independent, I wanted to get a pet but I had to travel every weekend to Madurai…which meant the pet had to be locked inside the house for two days. So no pet was possible, till I was alone.

The moment I got married, I decided to pursue by life long dream.

“Rekha, we should get a pet for the house.”

“Why Rajan? We just got married – I am your pet…and you are mine. Why do we need a third pet?” Rekha was as seductive as she could be. I fell for it and forgot pets for a year.

With time, we stopped being each other’s pets. That’s when I decided to ask Rekha again.

“Rekha, how about we bring a German Shepherd home?”

“What do you mean German Shepherd?” Rekha didn’t understand my question.

“Let me be straight…can a German Shepherd stay in our house? I responded in haste.

Rekha started blushing. This surprised me. But I waited for her to say something. After the blood had rushed down her face and down her neck…she regained composure and said: “Since reading Paulo Coelho’s Alchemist…I have always wanted to meet a traveling Shepherd. Now that we are short on love….a traveling Shepherd could mix things up.”

“This is a German Shepherd!” I shouted.

“Yeah yeah…. Paulo Coelho says all Shepherds are the same. So get him home. Let us have some fun,” Rekha said.

Before leaving I told Rekha that I shall be back in an hour with the German Shepherd. She looked excited and told me that she will prepare an extra room for him.

Guess, this was my hint – so she wanted a male dog.

I immediately went to a pet store and bought a male German Shepherd puppy. On the way I even decided to name him Paulo Coelho since my wife seemed to like the name so much.

I don’t know what hit me once I reached home. After 30 minutes of shouting at each other I learned a few things: That Paulo Coelho was a philosophical writer who wrote a book called Alchemist in which a shepherd goes around cities loving women. And that Rekha was excited to host him in our house, hoping it would bring back some love in her life.

Needless to say, I had to return the puppy and get my money back.

After this incident, I never brought forth the topic of pets. It has been five years since. Whenever tempted, I would just go to the Facebook Game Farmville and tend to my pet.

In the last few months the urge for pets has cropped up again, thanks primarily to our daughter Rhea. She loves animals and birds and fish – just like her dad.

So, two months back I asked Rekha: “How about a pair of rabbits for Rhea?”

“Alive?” Rekha inquired without looking up from the Adrian Mole series book she was reading.

“Yes alive. It will be a jail-within-a-jail experience for the rabbits….for we will get a cage as well.”

Guess, Rekha didn’t like my sarcasm, but she continued to be polite.

“Rajan, we live in Gurgaon….and we only have AC in our bedroom. How will the rabbits survive in this heat?”

“You don’t need to worry about that – they already have hare conditioning!” I tried to joke. We Rajans rely on our jokes to get things done. And more often than not it helps.

“OK fine…let us say we do get one. How long do they live – what if they die after a year? Wouldn’t Rhea be devastated?” Rekha was looking for reasons to not have rabbits in the house.

“But Rekha, we can always tell the pet shop owner that we don’t want rabbits with gray hare!”

Rekha wasn’t amused by this as well. After an hour long discussion, which also included Rekha throwing the Adrian Mole book at me, we agreed that we won’t get rabbits in the house.


About a week back, I saw that had a great deal – a pair of Australian Zebra Finch birds for just Rs 350. Without consulting Rekha, I bought them for Rhea. Once all three of us – me and the two birds – reached home, I was confronted.

I might as well have brought home a pretty secretary. The cold war took a few days to subside. It has been a week since and both my daughter and wife like the birds now.

Someday, I hope to have a German Shepherd as well in my house….but for that I need my daughter to grow up a little so that she can hold back my wife when she throws herself at me with a knife in her hand.

For now, you can check out my daughter’s reaction on seeing Australian Zebra Finch birds as her first pet.


Naming our son was stressful but we still managed to find him a name

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Sometime back we named our son, Ritwik. In fact the same day we even booked

Apparently, in US & Europe you have to decide on a name for your kid within two days of their birth. That is it – 2 days. Meanwhile, here in India, twenty five days after Rekha and I had our second child…we were still looking for a name.

In our son’s case we wanted to give him a name which starts with alphabet ‘R’ for that odd day when our family became a family of SuperHeros, we could call ourselves The ‘R’ Family. But our astrologer sought after by Rekha’s parents didn’t quote the alphabet ‘R’. So it was a question of starting a new life on this planet with a bribe – pay the astrologer to get a favorable alphabet. We did exactly that.

The astrologer was able to add ‘R’ in the list of probable alphabets without affecting any of the stars & moons, thanks to a NEFT transfer of Rs 1000/-.

I went thro’ all of this favourable alphabet seeking exercise in spite of being an opponent of the whole naming ceremony before the kid is 10 years old. I remember being pissed at my parents for naming me without consulting me. I think it was 1986 and I was a 11 year old whose name had been disfigured by his classmates.

“Why couldn’t you consult me before naming me?” I had shouted at my parents.

“Son, you were sleeping 22 hours out of 24 hours. How could we consult you?” My father replied.

“How about in those 2 hours?” I insisted.

“Son, even if we had asked you…you would have only replied with a ‘blahbla blahhbaba,’ my father kept a straight face.

“You should be glad we gave you such a nice name – Rajan.” My mother chipped in.

Anyway, as I said I was a reluctant participant in this naming ceremony. I thought I was cheating my son by not giving him an opportunity to decide for himself. As is always the case, nobody listened to me and we went ahead with the naming.

Since the alphabet was decided, we had all and sundry giving us name suggestions – from the fine sounding name ‘Rafat’ to the villain meaning ‘Ruffian’. While we politely refused the suggestions – the challenge of finding the right name hung over us.

To complicate matters, within a week of our son’s birth, celebrities Kim Kardashian and Kayne West had a daughter whom they named her ‘North West’….which unfortunately for us ended up trending on Twitter, globally. Now, we were under pressure to beat this and get a name that would also trend.

My mother had always wanted me to be a doctor and whenever I had asked her why, she had said: “Son, I want them to call you Doctor Rajan.”

So, Rekha and I deliberated on naming our son ‘Doctor’ so that when they combined it with his second name, it ended up become ‘Doctor Rajan’. Now that is how he would have been called and my mother’s wish would have been fulfilled.

We had almost finalized on ‘Doctor’ when I remembered that my father had wanted me to join the Army and become a General so that the World would address me as ‘General Rajan’. For a brief while we even deliberated if we should name our son ‘General’. But it was shot down.

With my two chances gone, my wife decided to chip in with suggestions. Her first suggestion was ‘Fire’….yes, she wanted to name our son Fire. Maybe, because he was born due to a fiery session of sex we had after a late night movie on a Saturday evening – a session that lasted between 11.00-11.10 pm. This is one of the advantages of having a planned sex life for you know the time of conception of your child till the last minute.

But I refused to accept Rekha’s suggestion saying I didn’t want my son to be listening to “Fire Rajan!” every time he turned his face.

During one of these days we had one of Rekha’s friend Shaina Ladiwala visit us.

“Why don’t you name your child 123ABC?” Shaina asked.

Rekha knotted her eyes and shot back, “And why would I want to name him 123ABC?”

“So that everybody can find him easily. On whatsapp if somebody’s name is stored as a number, he/she is visible right on top.” Shaina was convinced that it was a great name but we weren’t.

Many such suggestions poured in from all directions.

It would have been so easy if we had had twins – we could have simply named them Karan & Arjun or Dharam & Veer or Ram & Shyam or Sita & Gita, whatever be the situation. Our son being a single child we had to rely on our own creativity.

Whenever Rekha and I zeroed in on a name, and I gave my mother a feeler about what we were thinking and she would ask: “So, was it suggested by our side or Rekha’s side? ” My mother’s reaction on the name was always based on my answer to her this question.

Similarly, there was intense pressure from Rekha’s side to name our son using the Malayali Name Maker. There is a very convenient Name Maker Table that is available in every Malayali’s house, and all we have to do after giving birth to a child is to pick up one syllable from the first column and a syllable from the second column and combine it to form a name. OK…now try it.

Here are some syllables from the first column:
Jo, Ti, Bi, Si, Vi,

Here are some syllables from the second column:
Nu, By, Bi, Ju, Di, Jul

Now you know why we fought the Malayali Mafia, tooth and nail and didn’t get a name out of this Malayali Name Maker Table.

In spite of all these challenges, we did manage to find a good name for our son – Ritwik. I am very proud of him.

In fact, on many days I stand before my washroom mirror, extend my arm forward and say aloud to myself “Hi Ritwik Rajan here. Nice to meet you” just to visualize how my son will introduce himself to the rest of the World long after we are gone.

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Father walked whole month for son who wouldn’t walk 50 meters

My parents hated going out to eat. In fact even when we were traveling and stranded outdoors at odd times, we would still stretch ourselves, reach home, cook food and then eat. As a child, I hated this. Even my two sisters hated it. But both my mother and my father didn’t see anything wrong in this.

“Why eat out when you can have home cooked food?” My father would ask.

And my mother would chip in.“In our ancestral homes, the workers used to be given lunch and dinner in the veranda. I don’t want to be sitting in somebody else’s place and eat like a worker.”

“But ma, we are paying them. They aren’t giving us food because we can’t afford it.” My arguments never reached the intended conclusions.

By 1995 I was attending college and started meeting richer kids. I started hearing stories from my friends on how they visited such-and-such restaurant and had great family bonding time.

“You know Santosh’s whole family of eight visited Pandian Hotel for a buffet.”

“Isn’t buffet where you go and pick up your own food?” My mother would ask. “How distasteful,” she would add.

“Why is it distasteful?” I would frown.

“Imagine…what kind of a host wouldn’t serve you food where you are sitting? It is as if saying go-there-is-your-food go-get-it.”

My father would agree. “I would never set my foot inside such a place,” he would complement my mother thoughts.

My sisters and I suspected that my parents were against eating out because it would cost them more money. On the advice of my elder of the two younger sister I tried to find out how much a lunch would cost in such restaurants.

Now the question was to ask the right person. Somebody who wouldn’t judge me. Nitish Popli was a rich classmate I had while I was doing BA Economics in American College, Madurai. I approached him.

“Nitish bhai, you go to restaurants on Sundays, don’t you?” Back then, Sundays were the weekends.

“Yes indeed.” He was least interested.

“So, how much does it cost per person?” I closed my eyes after asking the question, just so I don’t see his expressions.

“Depends on which restaurant you go to.” He was still least interested.

Since I didn’t know the names of any good restaurant, I decided to rely on him. “What is the starting range? And what is the maximum?”

“Let us take Saravana Bhavan for example. The Unlimited Thali is Rs 20 and if you enter the Family Room, which is air conditioned, the same Unlimited Thali will cost you Rs 25.”

Please note this was still 1995, the days before the IT industry had taken off and increased the cost of living for all others.

The moment I reached home from college, and my mother opened the door for me I blurted out. “Amma, Unlimited Thali at Saravana Bhavan is only Rs 20 in non-AC and Rs 25 in the AC room.”

Our landline hadn’t been working, else I would have called them from an STD booth itself.

“What?” Was my mother’s only response. On my insistence, it was decided that once father was back we would discuss the issue.

My father came back home by 8 pm, and I just couldn’t hold it. But my sister beat me to it by running to open the door for my father and shouting right at his face. “The Unlimited Thali is only Rs 25 in the air-conditioned room of Saravana Bhavan.”

“I know. What about that?”

The ground slid from under our feet. So our father knew. So he had been cheating on us. He had been going out and eating in restaurants but never taking us there. This was gross injustice, we thought.

Being the eldest child in the family I had to take control of the situation. So, I called my two younger sisters (one was 16 years old and the other was 13) into a room and we agreed to go on a Hunger Strike. Anna Hazare would later steal my idea and use it to get the LokPal Bill passed.

Being the anointed spokesperson of the group, I spoke out first. “We will not have food till you promise us that we will be visiting a restaurant soon.”

At 10 pm, our parents buckled and agreed to take us to Saravana Bhavan the next Sunday. But not before telling us how the lunch would cost Rs 125 for all five of us. And how this money would have been enough to buy one month’s supply of cooking oil or 15 days supply of vegetables.

The next day I was raring to go to college. Once in, I informed Nitesh Popli that we were going to Saravana Bhavan for lunch the coming Sunday. He seemed least interested and didn’t even acknowledge.

From that day onwards, our house food didn’t taste good. We were yearning for the restaurant food. My parents knew what we were thinking, but kept to themselves.

Next Sunday, we all got up at 6 am itself. By 8 am we had all taken bath and put on our best clothes. My parents didn’t seem to be in a hurry.

By 12 noon, my father made one last ditch attempt to dissuade us from going to the restaurant. He said, “Why don’t I buy a kg of chicken and you guys help me cook. We can all then have a hearty meal in the house itself.”

My younger sister spoke up. She said, “But that’s something we do every Sunday.”

My father’s face fell. So did my mother’s. But we were least interested. We wanted to go to Saravana Bhavan for lunch.

My father called the auto rickshaw. If only I were accompanying them we would have gone by the Pandian Bus Service. But since my sisters were also accompanying us – I always suspected him to be more loving towards them – he had booked an auto.

At 12 noon, we hit the road – all five of us huddled in an auto. Since I was the most able-bodied I was asked to sit next to the auto driver.

My sisters and I haven’t been able to recreate the joy we experienced walking into Saravana Bhavan, that fateful Sunday afternoon. In the last 16 years I would have dined at the best of places, but never felt the joy walking in that I felt that Sunday.

Since I was walking ahead of the pack, the waiter motioned me to a table in the non-AC section. With great pride I waved my hand and said, “We are heading for the air conditioned section.”

It was quite a family affair. My parents, who till now were against eating out, also partied. After lunch my father asked for the desserts and we even ended up spending Rs 5 extra per person.

We came home an excited lot. It was the best Sunday we had ever had. Well, that’s if we didn’t include the Sunday when we watched the only movie we have seen in a theatre as a family in the last 30 years – the 3D movie Kutti Chatan (Chotta Chettan, in Hindi).

Once back, my parents had gotten into their shell again. “We have now had food in a restaurant. That’s all. This shouldn’t become a habit.” My mother said. Which I was sure my father agreed to.

Later in the day, I overheard my father tell my mother that the whole outing had cost us Rs 220. Rs 125 (lunch for all), Rs 25 (dessert for all), Rs 20 (food for autorickshaw driver) and Rs 50 (autorickshaw fare).

I also heard my father say: “That’s ok. Don’t worry. We will manage.” And my mother followed it up with: “Yes, I know we will.”

Being a teenager, I didn’t think about it much then.


As you are aware, I was in the beach-side Tirchendor temple in Tamil Nadu recently for offering prayers on the 5th death anniversary of my father. My mother and I had found the priest who was to help us with the prayers. All three of us had to walk 50 meters barefoot on beach sand heated by the 10 am sun. Not a difficult task but I started complaining. I started questioning my mother’s insistence that we do the annual ritual for my father in Tirchendor.

My mother looked at me in disbelief. Then her expression changed to that of love.

She said: “Remember, when you were in college and with your sisters you went on a hunger strike?”

“Ohh yes.”

“You wanted us to visit Saravana Bhavan for lunch?”

“Ohh yes. Those were good times.”

‘For you…yes. They were good times.”

“What do you mean?”

“Your father had just retired and we had also built our house, which had cost a lot more than estimated.”

“Ohh…is that so? I didn’t know.”

“That was our intention. We were really cash strapped back then but your father didn’t want you to know.”


“I wanted him to share the family’s financial situation with you. But he didn’t. He said it might affect your studies.”


“Yes. And did you know? After taking you guys out for lunch he didn’t ride his scooter for a month so that he could save on the fuel cost?”


“Yes…he walked 3 kilometers up and down every day for a month. Sometimes twice a day.”


“Yes. But he loved you a lot. You can walk this distance for him, can’t you?”

“Yes, ma. I can.”

After walking the 50 meters or so, as I sat down facing the sun for the prayers, my mother took the corner of her saree to wipe the tears in my eyes. “Ahhh…just some sand in my eyes,” I tried to fake it. But my mother would know.

As the Brahman chanted the mantras, I tried to recollect that month. Yes indeed, it had stuck me as odd. For almost a month my father didn’t take out his scooter and instead walked 3 kilometers up and down whenever my mother asked him to fetch something from the market.

I remember, once I had muttered under my breath: “What a miser!”


Wife forces her husband to start jogging and then stops him forever

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If you are a married man, you know what trouble it is to live with a lady who has an opinion of her own. In my case you can double that trouble – and you will know what it is like living with my daughter and my wife. Of course, my daughter’s opinions are still handle-able. It is my wife’s opinions that make my life hell.

I can handle any amount of attitude in my wife Rekha, what I can’t handle is her opinions. The other day, she said: “Rajan, you need to start working out again.”


“Just like that.”

Since, it was of no use arguing with my wife, I decided to start working out. I bought 500 grams of all the dry fruits available, mixed them in a bottle and kept them handy for the next day. As luck would have it I couldn’t beat the cold and head for a jog the next morning.

“Aren’t you going for a jog?”

“No. It is too cold.”

“Come on, don’t be a sissy. Go and work out. Get some stamina.”

“Stamina? Wait, do you have a reason for asking me to go for a jog?”


“Come on…tell me,” I insisted.

“Since you insist. And mind you, only since you insist, let me share a secret with you. You aren’t holding up the bed anymore.”

“Ohh my God! You feel so?” I was shocked. I could have run a marathon at that moment just to prove a point.

My wife just nodded and left the room. I had only two options – start jogging soon or get a second opinion. Getting a second opinion would mean, finding a young girl. That wasn’t going to happen in my 40s (yes, thats how old I am), so from the next day, I started jogging.

Ten days went by, and suddenly my wife asked me: “You seem to have started enjoying your jog?”

“Yes indeed. The first few days were a drab, but now it is fun.”

My wife thought for a while and then asked: “Why do you always leave at 6.30 am? Anything special with the timing?”

“Just fits right into the schedule. If I leave at that time, I can be in office by 9.30 am.”

“Hmm…” My wife was thinking.

“Why do you ask?” I questioned her while I tied the laces of my running shoes.

“In my opinion, you wouldn’t start jogging at 6.30 am everyday if there wasn’t something in it for you.”

“Yes, I am getting healthier. Not to mention the improved stamina.” I stressed on the word stamina, and gave my wife the naughty look which she has started hating after our marriage.

“Nothing else then, huh?”

“Nope. Nothing else really.” Saying this I said my byes and headed for the lift. Just as I was entering the lift in my tracksuit and running shoes, I heard my wife’s voice from behind: “I hope your punctuality has nothing to do with other woman who comes jogging?”

It was one of those close moments where the benefit of doubt could be provided to either side – so I stepped in to the lift and stayed quite as if I hadn’t heard my wife. She also never brought up the topic again.

It really pains me to know that my wife still hasn’t realized that it is difficult to for me to get younger women because I am in my 40s. It is just not possible for me to connect with a younger lady. If at all we strike a conversation, most end up calling me ‘Uncle’ or ‘Sir’ or ‘Bhaiya’ within the first 30 seconds.

The more I jogged, the more I started loving it. It had been two months since I had started my morning run. Me leaving at 6.30 am everyday for two months was more than what my wife could take. She decided to find out for herself.

One find day, she bought tracks and running shoes and followed me ten minutes later.

I didn’t know she was following me till, I spotted her hiding behind one of the trees. I had nothing to fear. I would do my rounds and then head back home. It would be my wife’s responsibility to explain the circumstances – and I loved such scenarios.

But fate had something else in store for me. As I finished my third round around the apartment complex, Sunita, who is a mother of a two year old baby boy, came right in front of me and said:

“Hi! You are Jammy, right?”

“Yes.” I was cautious because I knew my wife was watching.

“Rhea’s father, right?”


“I have seen you around many times. You don’t know me…but I know you.”


“I have been seeing you jog for the last two months, and you have inspired me to take up jogging.

“Wow, thats nice. But why did you stop me now?”

“Do you mind, if I also jog alongside you – I have a problem pacing myself.”

Guys, you all know me. I try to help as many people as possible. Even if sometimes I end up in trouble as a result of the act. I agreed, and she ran three rounds of the apartment with me. When tired, she shook hands, thanked me and left.

God’s ways surprise me. Just the day you don’t want a girl to cross your path, he throws a pretty one on the road and asks you to fight it out with your wife.

As you have guessed by now, I couldn’t convince my wife that Sunita had started jogging only that day. My wife still believes that I woke up every day at 6 am and headed for a jog at 6.30 only for Sunita.

To prove that there was nothing going on between Sunita and me, I had to give up jogging just when I had started loving it. And just when my stamina had started improving.

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Two days back, we were shopping. My daughter was sitting in the shopping cart and I was pushing the it while my wife was picking up the items to be bought and placing them inside the cart. It all went well for fifteen minutes and then we lost my wife.

I looked every where. For her bit, my daughter also tried shouting ‘Amma!’ ‘Amma!’ but to no avail. We just couldn’t spot her. That’s when an idea stuck me, I approached a pretty young girl in her early 20s standing near the Toiletries section and stuck a conversation with her.

“Hi!” I said.

“Do I know you?” The girl had an I-don’t-flirt-with-married-men look on her face.

“No you don’t know me….but I have lost my wife.”

“So? What do you want from me?”

“No nothing…we just need to talk for five minutes and the problem will get solved.” I said with a grin on my face which she was unable to fathom.

“What do you mean?” She was getting rude.

“Whenever I talk to a pretty woman my wife finds me. So hold on for a few more seconds and my wife will be here.” My naughty grin continued.

“Look Mister, I am from a respectable family.”

“Don’t worry. Just a few more seconds. I am sure my wife has sensed the danger by now.”

I hadn’t even finished the sentence when I heard Rekha call me from behind: “Rajan, what are you doing there? Your daughter is alone here!”

It worked. It always works!


Funniest letter ever written by mother to her son

I promise, I didn’t write this. No, seriously. What you are going to read is the funniest letter ever written by a mother to her son. This letter was written by a Sardani mother to her son in Canada. Where else!

Let me assure you that we can’t stereotype sardars. Some of them are intelligent. Here is a short story of how Ikroop Singh, a sardar classmate of mine in class ten stumped me. Ikroop Singh despite his turban continued to hold fort that he was not a Sardar. In order to finally corner him into submission, I asked: “OK, agreed that you are not a sardar. Just tell me in which state were you born?”

He said: “State of Denial.”

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Here is the funniest letter ever written by a mother to her son

Pyare Puttar,

I am in a well here and hoping you are also in a well there. I’m writing this letter slowly, because I know you cannot read fast. We don’t live where we did when you left home. Your dad read in the newspaper that most accidents happen 20 miles from home, so we moved 20miles. I won’t be able to send the address as the last Sardar who stayed here took the house numbers with them for their new house so they would not have to change their address.

Hopefully by next week we will be able to take our earlier address plate here, and that our address will remain same too. This place is really nice. It even has a washing machine, situated right above the toilet I’m not sure it works too well.Last week I put in 3 shirts, pulled the chain and haven’t seen them since.

The weather here isn’t too bad. It rained only twice last week. The first time it rained for 3 days and second time for 4 days.The coat you wanted me to send you, your Aunt said it would be a little too heavy to send in the mail with all the metal buttons, so we cut them off and put them in the pocket.

Your father has another job. He has 500 men under him. He is cutting the grass at the cemetery.

By the way I took Bahu to our club’s poolside. The manager is badmash. He told her that two piece swimming suit is not allowed in his club. We were confused as to which piece should we remove?

Your sister had a baby this morning. I haven’t found out whether it is a girl or a boy, so I don’t know whether you are an Aunt or Uncle.

Your uncle, Jetinder fell in the nearby well. Some men tried to pull him out, but he fought them off bravely and drowned. We cremated him and he burned for three days.

Your best friend, Balwinder, is no more. He died trying to fulfill his father’s last wishes. His father had wished to be buried in the sea after he died. And your friend died while in the process of digging a grave for his father.

There isn’t much more news this time. Nothing much has happened. Wanted to write longer but the envelope is already sealed.

Live long
Your dear mother

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