September 27, 2006

From that sandy spot

Trip this weekend to a sandy corner of Rajasthan. Nostalgia, old friends, memories, renewal, a quarter century. In honour of all that, these two little stories.

***

Tuesday night dinners? Always a little dreary: slopped into one of the compartments in our thalis was a concoction that, we were led to believe, started life as kheer.

A dessert of sorts, you know?

When Dinesh and I sit down this Tuesday, that mess institution, Girdhari (still there), sports a troubled look. Before passing our thalis out, he turns one over. "Look," he says. "The stuff stays there."

The kheer. It does. Stay there. So congealed, it won't fall out.

This is not something to take lying down, or even sitting there. We summon the manager. I speak to him. Meanwhile, Dinesh picks up his spoon lugubriously, sticks the business end into the kheer, and thumps the other end with his hand. The small piece he shovels out of the once-kheer then goes into his mouth. He drops the spoon. Thumps his head with one hand, at the same time his chin with the other. This way, he munches through the stuff. Lugubrious still.

The manager, looking on stoically, gets the point.

Maybe not. Next Tuesday, the kheer is the same.

***

We called Nitin "Bondo" for no apparent reason other than it was one more of those peculiar campus names. But he was, and I mean this in the best sense, peculiar anyway. For us, one incident summed up his outlook on life.

In a long-forgotten test -- some 3rd year Math or Physics course, I think -- Bondo came home with half on twenty-five. (I got a rather big zero, but that's another story). That's right, half a mark out of a maximum of twenty-five. Still, that fraction alone was not what made this a special occasion. Good old Bondo picked up his paper and streaked off to the concerned professor's office. To protest. But not, as you might imagine, that he had been given an unfairly low mark, or half-mark. (What is an unfairly low half-mark, I wonder).

"Half a mark is a disgrace!" he wailed at the bemused professor. "Please reduce it to zero!" he pleaded. "At least then I can show my face to my mates in the hostel!"

The odd thing was, he was right. When he returned with a zero just as resplendent as mine, we looked at him with new respect.

Then we gave him bumps. As I recall, one for each half-mark he didn't get.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

lol..all this talk of kheer...i like it!


http://www.indian-recipe.net

sukumar said...

V P Mainra; elementary real analysis (era)probably; where you did nifty things like taking a page to prove that 1 was actually greater than zero; had several of those (0s) to show in that course.

Anirudh said...

Shaant!