October 21, 2006

No sweat

Part of the point of our 25-year reunion, of course, was to rewind our lives to those halcyon days when we were young, the air was clean, the stars were bright, and Tuesday dinners consisted of rajma (red beans) and rice. Charged with that spirit, many of my alumni mates who gathered in Pilani attempted activities they don't normally do today, but would have done without a care a quarter-century ago.

No, I don't mean the strenuous activity of hanging around on the campus roads, tongues out, ogling the passing girls. Well, sure, some of the guys may have spent the weekend doing just that, but that's not what I mean. (I feel safe in assuming that the girls of our time did not do the same to passing boys, thus I am quite sure they didn't do it this time either. Well anyway, you ladies, please correct me if I'm wrong and I hope I am).

For example, there's the alum who, on hearing that another alum's teenage daughter was both at the reunion and is a state-level tennis player, set up to play with her. The man didn't have shoes, but the urge to rewind was so strong that he played in his sandals. They couldn't get a court to themselves, so they persuaded some students to give them a half-court to hit on. A very thorough half-hour shellacking from the daughter ensued. She ran this alum all over the half-court like a madman, up and down, side to side, until he was bent double, gasping for breath and pleading for mercy.

And the daughter? She had barely broken a sweat.

"Thank you for the game," she said graciously. "Hukka-huff-hukka-hukka-you," he managed to cough out in equally gracious response.

There were the other alums who, after breakfast one morning, set off walking to the lawns at the other end of campus for a photo-call (yes, we felt very much like we were at Cannes). As they got started, they ran into some cycle-rickshaws, and the lawns suddenly seemed very, I mean VERY, far away. So some of these guys, in pairs, climbed into the rickshaws -- give them credit, it only took them four or five attempts to make it -- and urged the rickshaw drivers to get them to the lawns on time.

At this point, at least a couple of the drivers turned to look at their passengers and slowly shook their heads. The load, it was obvious from their doubting faces and from the shimmying passenger bellies -- I shall be kind and not mention names here -- was about four or five times what they were used to carting.

But this didn't deter at least a couple of the alums, in two different rickshaws. Each leaned over and asked his driver if he would let them drive the rickshaw. At least one of these fellows had his wife sitting in the vehicle, so I suspect he was, after two decades and more of blissful marriage, finally making a valiant attempt to impress her.

Here's a tip, bud: she ALREADY MARRIED YOU! You don't NEED to impress her any more!

In any case, as the bemused drivers stood watching, both alum-driven rickshaws made their way gently and smoothly, very purposefully, very firmly, into the yellow-flowered hedge adjoining the road.

But let it be said: the two alums looked very impressive indeed as they picked yellow flowers out of their hair.

Final note: the tennis-playing alum made me swear not to reveal his identity. I suddenly don't feel like keeping that promise any more. He was one Shri D'Souza. Yours truly.


Yet one more vignette from our college reunion three weeks ago. Previous vignettes: Nap time and Drummer girl.


Sidhusaaheb said...

Ah...I liked the way you broke the suspense at the end...


Gautam Ghosh said...

ah !

brilliant wordsmithery !