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Tuesday, November 20, 2007


I wrote this nearly 2 years ago, one rainy March evening. I forced a lot of friends to read this *ahem* 'literary masterpiece', and most of them have refused to acknowledge my existence ever since. Now you know why I don’t write fiction.

I dream of rain.

The heavens opening and crying out its heart, carrying with it the grief of untold generations. The rain mingling with the tears on her face, flowing down her cheeks as one, to gaze apprehensively at the world below, only to get pushed down over the curve by their successors. The sweet liquid merging with the salt, to wash away the evidence of her broken heart.

The lightning, mirroring those moments when her wrath could destroy worlds. A blast of pure energy that reflects the heat in her eyes when the pain that threatened to overwhelm her transformed into rage. Lightning, blasting him into a million tiny pieces, each one glowing bright as the sun before fading to ash, to dust, fading to the black of oblivion.

And the thunder as loud as only thunder can be, yet, too soft to be heard over her screams. Thunder, shaking the earth, moving continents by its sheer intensity, while her anguish burnt a hole inside her, with no hope of escape.

She looked up at the sky. Black clouds had blotted out the sunshine from her life, hid from her the silvery moonbeams of hope, and shrouded the stars in her eyes. The very Universe was darkened by the shadows in her heart.

And it began to rain. Just a drizzle, and then harder, and harder, until each drop was a boulder. They pelted her face, washing away the signs of her emotion with a vengeance. She stood there, while the tears from heaven cleansed her soul of sorrow. She could feel it, each drop absorbing her grief, washing it away, leaving hopes of a better tomorrow in its place. Soon, joy began to make itself at home, for now her heart was healing, with scars that time would heal.

And a bolt of lightning came forth from the skies.

They found her the next day, a burn mark running down her body, and a smile on her face.

Moral of the story: Seek shelter during thunderstorms.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Purple Dreamer

A few million years ago, dinosaurs roamed the earth. After a while, birds and some pterodactyls flew about in the sky. Then somehow the dinosaurs and the pterodactyls died out, but the avians survived on fish. The fish became creatures who fed on milk, but couldn't fly. The birds wanted milk, and couldn't get any, so they took to swearing at the cows. Some of the abused took to the trees, in an attempt to intimidate the birds, but they (the birds, that is, and not the yay-I-can-climb-a-tree types) merely took to the skies and pooped on them. The tree-dwellers immediately (give or take a million years) evolved into the Wright brothers, and thumbed their noses at the foul-mouthed fowls. This just goes onto show you that in the vast and important scheme of things, time is irrelevant. Angel-Doc, remember tagging me? Although this post has nothing to do with it, let me emphasise that any resemblance to the meme is purely coincidental. As would have been obvious by now, it's all about how I'm slowly going off my rocker.

I baptise:
1. Tys on Ice
2. Spunky Monkey
3. Ziah
4. The Monk
5. Bullshee
6. Tangled :)
These worthy souls shall carry on the torch of enlightenment. Please don't set fire to the furniture, and keep an extinguisher handy.

People I'd like to execute:
1. My way or the highway:
Commands like 'You should do Gynaecology for your PG', or 'You should not wear high heels.'
The last I checked, this was a free country. I'll walk on stilts if I choose to. If my back hurts later, dammit, it's my back.

2. Insufferable know-it-alls:
I have an aversion to individuals who try to teach me hitherto unknown medical facts. I will not die if I eat curd and fish together. And hanging my cell phone round my neck will not give me a heart attack. There is a very good chance that I might die from a temporal glioma, but not a heart attack. Really. And the sex education perverts who get their kicks from expounding upon 'the union of the male and the female is achieved by the...'? Finish that sentence, and you'll be missing vital parts of your anatomy.

3. You're only a girl:
I understand that men have different qualities, and that women are far superior, so what hell do you mean when you say 'women' with as much venom as you can muster? If you are so contemptuous of what you perceive as feminine weakness, let's see you bleed for a week every month. And thanks to modern technology, now you can become pregnant too. Good luck with getting rid of the placenta.

4. Religious fanatics:
There are all kinds of people out there, and twice that many Gods. Those getting totally obsessed about God or religion have my contempt. I know this girl who is so orthodox she's never been inside any place of worship other than her own, because her Big Guy won't like it.
And the heathen. Don't get me started on that.

5. Bimbos:
Anyone whose head is more for ornament than for its circuitry. I'm not very tolerant of stupidity, even when the packaging is pretty.

6. Hypocrites:
I believe the followers of some faiths do not visit doctors when they are ill. There was one such person in my (please not the point) medical entrance coaching class. She had an acute asthmatic attack one night, and the warden of her hostel called an ambulance. She refused to get into the ambulance saying Satan gave her asthma and that it would go away if she prayed. Why on earth did she want to become a doctor? She didn't get through the entrance, if you were wondering.

7. Arrogant snobs:
'I can't sleep without an AC' types. I can arrange for it to be converted to DC, Your Lowness.

People I'd award the AP Nobel to:
1. Surgeons:
I have a rather complex relationship with surgery. I don't like the subject much, but I surgeons rarely fail to amaze me. All that confidence. 'Bleeder! Cautery.' Just how do they manage to stay on their feet for hours? How do they know one structure from another? How can they do it with such precision? How can they be unaffected by the things they see? How much control does that take? No wonder they think they are Gods. I do, too.

2. Param Vir Chakra:
Ordinary people with the courage to face the daily grind. Or if you prefer corny flakes, the unsung soldiers in the battle of life. I find it easier to deal with big emergencies than the little ups and downs. Q. E. D.

3. Well rounded brainiacs:
No, no. no. That's not what I mean.
I'm talking about people like my friend Scar. He is brilliant, well-read, athletic, and to top it all, he is a nice guy. And I've never found him with his nose buried in a textbook. The latest gossip, or the newest medical breakthrough, I hear it from him. I hope he gets the real Nobel someday. He sure deserves it.

4. Artists :
Whether it's a paintbrush or a scalpel, an artist is an artist.
Was it Mark Twain who said, "If it falls your lot to sweep streets, sweep them like Michelangelo painted pictures, like Shakespeare wrote poetry, like Beethoven composed music." Somehow I can't imagine Mark Twain saying that.

5. B, 65:
I knew him only as B, 65 years. He was a patient in one of the Medicine wards. He had aplastic anaemia, and needed frequent blood transfusions, and that meant regular blood tests. He was the first person I ever drew blood from, and he liked us students. One of the first things we did in the morning was to go talk to him. He used to tell us to work hard, care for our patients, and would never crib about us pricking him for blood everyday. He never complained about his illness, no 'why me'. He always had a smile for me, even on a bad day. He never yelled at us, unlike many of the patients. He had the bed at the end of the ward for the 3 months I was posted in Medicine, and we used to go back and visit him even after our posting ended. One day, he wasn't there, and I heard he'd been shifted to the ICU. He died 2 days later.

6. Smilers:
People with a wonderful sense of humour. I can't find a better example for this than my mom. I was 11, and with the idiots on the Municipal Council blocking the major drains in our area, our house flooded with water during the rains. It was cold, we were knee deep in water, most of our things were on the road on ruin, and the stench was awful. We decided to go away for a couple of days, and were packing everything that could be salvaged. Suddenly, Amma laughed and showed me my foam slippers floating around in the water. It was funny seeing it getting stuck on bits of furniture. I've never met many women her age who is amused by the little absurdities in life. Most of them are very grim and prim.

Having successfully established myself as the epitome of frivolity, here's my Postal Joke. It's an old one, and one of my favourites.
Q: For every 90 sins you commit, you get caught 45 times. Wonder why?
A: Because sin 900 = cot 450.

P.S: As of today, I have an official fans association at college. What else can I ask for?

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Monkey Brains

Guess what I saw here.

And this was very interesting. What do you say?

Real posts takes time, and I don't have any right now. The postman is on leave. A new post when he comes back on duty.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Of Blogs and Rats and Me

Why do I blog?
This is as good an answer as any.

At this point, I'd like to inform everyone that Stephan Pastis (may he live forever and continue to draw Pearls) owns Pearls Before Swine. I don't. Copyright and all that, everything, belongs to Pastis & Co.

Pearls is my favourite strip. Not that kind of strip, perv. Comic strips. The kind they put in newspapers. Like, say, Dilbert. Anyway, about Pearls. It's my favourite strip (I love repeating myself). Not Calvin & Hobbes (it's a close second), not Garfield (third, like Ender), not Dilbert (it's nowhere on the list), not {insert name of comic strip here}, it's Pearls Before Swine that's my favourite. The title is taken from a line in the Bible, that goes something like, thou shalt cast no pearls before swine. The strip is about a bunch of anthropomorphic animals that live in a city, alongside humans. Humans don't appear in the strip very often, and when they do, they don't find talking animals unusual at all.

The humour is dark, it often comes across as insensitive, there are plenty of people lobbying for the un-syndication of Pearls, it pokes fun at many serious issues, but, bottom line is, I find it funny. Funny as in 'hahahaha if I laugh any more I'll die' funny.
Pearls, for the lack of better words, is me. I can identify with all of the main characters in the strip, except one. God, not that one, please.

The hero, Rat, is the personification of our greatest vices. And I don't count greatness as a vice. I think, when things get really really sticky, we think about our own skins alone. I don't mean that we are all always uncaring monsters, we do give lots of damns about our loved ones, it's just that we love our own selves a little more. Take unrequited love, for instance. X (yeah, took me an hour think up the name) loves Y (it was easier this time, only 45 minutes). But Y does not love X (big surprise, huh?). X is sad (understatement of the year) because (duh!) Y does not love X. What I'm trying to say is, although X loves Y, all X is wants is another person to love X. There is no such thing as an unselfish act. No, that's too general. I have never come across a completely unselfish act. Think about it.
Rat is the personification, or more accurately, the rodentification, of the worst of many of my faults, magnified into something enormous that fits into the body of a rat. He is a self-centred, cynical, cruel, sarcastic, insensitive, totally hateful megalomaniac. I know myself well enough to realise that I have a nasty streak in me. I don't kick small children, but I'm tempted to, if they bug me. I need to use a lot of restraint when it comes to not pulling their hair out by the roots when they do that to me, the force of temptation being directly proportional to the age of the child. Rat is multi-talented, he writes children's books and romance novels, owns a tabloid (The National Enquirat), and is also a highly successful (what else?) lawyer.

Pig, Rat's roomie, is, well, a little dumb. He says and does a lot of things that are misunderstood, because he did not know they could be taken the wrong way. He is innocent, not very worldly-wise, shy, insecure, a little slow, a misfit among his peers (he likes bacon). I wish I could say I'm nothing like him, but the truth is that I'm too much like him for comfort. But he's also very sweet, a description that, sadly, does not apply to me.
Rat: If you could have a conversation with one person, living or dead, who would it be?
Pig: The living one.
Pig: You must really think I'm stupid.

Goat is quite intelligent, a loner, prefers books to people, is always the butt of Rat's ridicule, and easily exasperated by stupidity and apathy. He can't stand Rat, either, but it's always Rat who gets the last word. Goat keeps a blog that no one reads. Yes, I know, the resemblance is uncanny.

Zebra is a very ordinary sort of guy, but unfortunately, prey. There are all kinds of predators waiting to eat him, or one of his herd members back home in Africa. He's an idealist, trying to make the predators more understanding about the plight of becoming eaten. Not a particularly easy task, when staying alive is hard enough. He also has a lot of principles that he lives by, and he finds it frustrating when they are paid no heed. I could write entire books on the subject.

Most people have guard dogs, but Pig has a Guard Duck. His solution to every problem, small or big, is his rocket launcher. Not a bad idea, that. Nothing like a rocket launcher to stop others from being annoying.

Da Brudderhood of Zeeba Zeeba Eata. The dumbest Crocs on earth live next door to Zebra, and are such incompetent predators that they have to subsist on take out from KFC. Da only seemilareety between da Crocs and me ees dat me sometimes talk like dem. But that could be because I'm addicted to Pearls.

The jokes in the strip are my favourite kind- horrible puns that would leave my victims writhing in agony.
Rat: I saw my cousin Gene today.
Pig: Is he the guy that runs marathons?
Rat: Yeah, but he's a real jerk ... nobody in my family likes him.
Pig: It must be tough to have a bad Gene that runs in the family.

I hope everyone liked the new display picture. And do check out Pearls here. You can read the Wikipedia entry on Pearls here. Enjoy.

There are dozens of recurring characters, like Danny Donkey, Farina, Stromoski, and Angry Bob, who is the hero of the romance novels Rat writes, but none of them are, well, me. The day I become Angry Bob is the day I die (pun intended). Plus the strip is really complex, with cross overs, pop culture references, running gags, and all. In short, just like life. But taken in in its entirety, the strip is totally me.

I'd like to remind everyone that all of the pictures I have used here, and the characters, are the property of Stephan Pastis, the creator of Pearls, and that the copyright and things belong to him.

There are very few things for which I have strong feelings, humour is one of them. My tastes are another. There are a few more, but Medicine tops the list. I also love stating the obvious. I don't know how boring this has been, I talk seriously only about issues that are very close to my heart.

From now on, I'll be ending all my posts on this blog with a joke that I find funny. I'm going to call it *drumroll* Postal Joke.
Pig: What are you reading?
Goat (holding book): It's a mystery.
Pig: Have you checked the title page?

Friday, September 14, 2007

18 and Above

No explicit content, peepals, it's the 18 things you've all been dying to know about me. Oh, someone already died? Thou hast not died in vain, O William of Avon, thy sacrifice has been rewarded. You can read this if you can access the net from your grave. You can all thank Sreejith for this literary masterpiece.

1. Pick out a scar you have, and explain how you got it.
Healed scar, 0.5 * 0.1 cm, on the dorsum of the right hand, 1 cm below and lateral to the 2nd metacarpophalangeal (MCP) joint. I had my viva exam in Forensic Medicine yesterday, so please forgive me for not speaking English. Translated, it's a small scar on the back of my right hand, below my index finger. Don't be misled by the size, I bled like a stuck pig. As is true of all of women's problems, this too was due to an MCP. Looks can be deceiving. That's him on the right.

2. What does your phone look like?
You don't know what an iPhone looks like? Tsk-tsk.* I was just dying to say that. My phone is a combination of dirty silver and a particularly ugly shade of blue, thanks to some idiot at Sony Ericsson who thought he was a designer.

3. What is on the walls of your bedroom?
Blood, and other less colourful things that splatter when people die under torture. Makes for a very unique design. I could tell you why they were tortured, but then I'd have to kill you.

4. What is your current desktop picture?
This one, from my favourite comic strip, Pearls Before Swine, by Stephan Pastis. Zeeba Zeeba Eata!

5. Do you believe in gay marriage?
Weddings are serious affairs, sometimes a little too serious, so I think a little more liveliness would do no harm. And if the bride(groom) and (bride)groom add to the gaiety, I have no objections.

6. What do you want more than anything right now?
I want mosquitoes to practice birth control.

7 . What time were you born?
My mom went to work as usual, thinking about her maternity leave which began the next day, and how her little Arjun would be born after a month. She was wrong on all counts. I came along a few hours later, and turned out to be this 2.4 kg Amazon any football team would be proud of! Everyone was expecting a boy, because of how I used to kick. Amma's sari would be lifted into the air and slowly come to rest against her tummy, waiting for me to start again. And I was a month early, the doctor said I was as developed as a baby at full term, so I didn't have to be incubated.

8. Are your parents still together?

My dad is watching TV, and my mom is in the kitchen. So technically, they're not. No mean feat, considering the Bush-heart-Osama moments, (flashback to the time Sun Tzu visited them to get tips on waging wars), but it's been 32 years. Are you listening, Nobel Peace Prize guys? I need one!

9. Last person who made you cry?
It wasn't a person, it was a weighing machine. *sob*

10. What is your favorite perfume / cologne?
I never go out and buy perfume because all my relatives in the Gelf insist on gifting perfumes, and I don't get a choice in the matter. My favourite so far was Red Door.

11. What kind of hair/eye color do you like in the opposite sex?
I can't stand guys with straightened long hair and tinted contacts, a fad that is hugely popular here. Somebody shoot me!

12. What are you listening to?
Moody Blues- Nights in White Satin.

13. Do you get scared of the dark?
I go to sleep clutching a torch and another one under my pillow so that if there's a power failure in the middle of the night and my night lamp goes off, I can scare Count Dracula away. He attacks only in total darkness. Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night and shine my torch around the room, to ensure that he isn't hiding behind the bookshelf. No exaggeration, this.

14. Do you like painkillers?
They go well with my migraine.

15. Are you too shy to ask someone out?
I think I would be. Anyone who could make me want to ask him out would be capable of making me tongue-tied.

16. If you could eat anything right now, what would it be?
Grapes. I'm crazy about grapes. I can eat grapes morning, noon and night, and even while I sleep.

17. Who was the last person you made you mad?
An ad for spectacle lenses with brand mark. Brand nahi to style nahi. What the bloody effing nonsense? I'd like to throw my Lacoste shoes at them.

18. Who was the last person who made you smile?
My cousin, when he rang up and asked for Dr. AP. :)

Anyone who has cats can take up this tag.

PS: Bill from Avon, stop turning over in your grave.
PPS: The guy who gave me the scar is actually a girl. He's pregnant now.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Ordeal by Innocence

It was to begin at precisely 8-30 AM. The victim stood with her head bent, hands clasped as in prayer, eyes closed, awaiting her judgment. She knew what to expect, but she kept hoping it would not happen. It could not happen. Should not. Death would be preferable to... Shivers ran down her spine at the thought.

She opened her eyes. The judge had entered the room. She saw her fate in the judge’s eyes. “NOOOOOO…” She screamed.

“Stop fussing,” said mom. “Everyone will be wearing Kerala saris today.”

Everyone was in Kerala sari, so it should not have mattered. But it did. She hadn’t yet mastered the art of walking normally while wearing a sari. The others had. She almost didn’t enjoy herself. Almost. Onam celebrations at college is always fun.

Happy Onam, people.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Practice, In theory

We were really surprised to hear that we would be having a theory class on Forensic Medicine that day, since the university had held the theory exam a week ago. The practical exams were to start the following week, and all the departments had announced their intention of giving us lab revision classes. All of us had totally forgotten what congested spleens looked like under a microscope, and it was real nice of them to do that, especially when the trouble we've made over our year and a half is considered.

It came as real shock that the Forensic guys were taking a theory class, and that too from 9.30 AM to 3.30 PM. That's 7 hours, for the mathematically challenged geniuses like me. Almost everyone turned up for the class with unquenchable enthusiasm, an astonishing event, since the turnout is only about 78% for the classes where attendance is compulsory. The class turned out to be about the theoretical aspects of the practical exam, and was a total washout. Nothing more will be said about the class, and the title loses its relevance.

Unaccustomed to having both eyes open as early as 9.30 in the AM, I had raced to class with the minimum of fuss, without wasting time over frivolities such as breakfast. I had brushed my teeth and washed my face, but only out of consideration for R's feelings, who is submitted to the rare privilege of being my friend. After the lecturers exited the torturing chamber at 11.30 amidst thundering applause (the 3.30 ending time turned out to be a myth), I dragged R to the canteen and polished off some atrocious food giving it the respect all edible materials command. After racking our brains for a while, we discovered there was nothing further to do at college, and tearfully decided to return home.

We were joined on our journey to the bus stop by G, and the three crazy females had fun giving a cute guy the directions to the office. I believe he ended up at the pharmacy college. Suddenly, A rang up R and announced that all the inmates of the Ladies' Hostel were going to catch the new Harry Potter movie, were we interested in joining them. Even after years of friendship, I haven't been able to convince R that the Harry Potter books are fun to read, and she nixed the idea on the spot. So did I, but for different reasons (a book is a book is a book is not a movie). G had already seen it, and considered 2 hours from her life as hopelessly wasted.

The three of us walked on,waiting for the next cute guy to pop up, when G suggested we see the new comedy. R and I liked the idea, and we rang up A to discuss the new development, but A remained true to Umbridge. That's when we ran into our good friend K, and begged him on our knees to accompany us, promising him a place in heaven as St. Peter's right hand man, since 3 'little' girls isn't a strong enough number for my folks. But K said he was going to see Harry Potter no matter what, but a couple of his friends were getting the tickets to the comedy that very second and to call one of them to book us tickets if we wanted to go. Torn by K's betrayal, we wearily trudged to the bus stop. Everyone we met on the way had the same thing to say, "Ha-rry. Ha-rry. Ha-rry." Unable to take more of this harrying, the three heartbroken girls decided to drown their sorrows in Sprite, and unhappily took a detour to the bakery.

After a couple of swigs from the Sprite bottle, washed down by a sandwich, our spirits rose high enough to catch a bus to the Planetarium. But Fate had a different idea...

While in the bus, G's boyfriend, N, rang her up and said he'd go with us, even though he'd seen the movie twice. Moved by his sacrifice, we arranged for K's friends to book us tickets. Having an hour and a half left for the movie to begin, we thought we'd sample the delights the planetarium had to offer, only to discover that the planet show began at 2.30, the same time as our movie.

That's when I realized we had no idea where the movie theatre was. N informed us over the phone that it was only a 5 minute walk from Big Bazaar. That was all we needed to hear. The next thing I knew, we were taking the escalator to the clothes section at Big Bazaar. All hail department stores. It's a deep unsolvable mystery, how we lost track of time. The highlight of the mad rush to the theatre at 2.28 PM was running into the seedy lodge next to the movie house.

We found N waiting outside with our tickets, and entered the hall just as as the movie began. The first sight that greeted our eyes as we shuffled inside was a smiling K waving to us. A closer look revealed the reason for his smile, almost all the seats in the balcony were occupied by our classmates from the Ladies' Hostel. Then the lights went off, we switched off our brains for a couple of hours and watched Communism being massacred on the screen.

Monday, July 9, 2007

I've been busy. Studying.

The title isn't true, you know. It's true that my exams have been going on for the last 3 months, the last I checked. Yeah, yeah, I know. But I haven't been busy studying. I've been busy lazing around every couple of days, then getting all edgy and panicky the day before the exam, ringing up R for 'inspiration' only to find out she's in the exact same state, and hanging up after a zillion "What's wrong with us?", "Why are we like this?" and "Maybe it's the climate.", noticing the situation is worse since I just spent an hour on the phone, bringing on another panic attack, prompting me to attempt an all-nighter, and then falling asleep at 1230 hours to wake up at 1000 hours the next (or technically, the same) morning with the revelation that there are 20 chapters left, and less than 4 hours in which to complete that. That's when I get busy.

Where does all this terrifying efficiency go when I know the exam is still a couple of days off? I read 200 pages in less than 2 hours the night before the exam, but I get through only about half a page (alright, half a paragraph) a day otherwise. I can watch TV for hours, browse for even longer periods, and these days I manage about 12 hours' sleep. Oh, my God. What is wrong with me?

Penicillin, here I come.

Friday, May 11, 2007

The Indestructible Salmonella

It was one of those cold winter evenings. Or as cold as winter evenings get in the tropics. Whatever. This isn’t a weather report.

Our heroine was in depths of despair. She paced the room, looking for a way out. There were none. She was trapped. She suppressed a groan. On thinking it over, she decided to groan louder. Several loud ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ later, her mother heard her. Mission success.

“What’s wrong, honey?”

“I think I’m coming down with something. I’m feeling really tired. And there’s this weird ache all over.”

“Don’t you have an exam tomorrow?”

Damn! She had to remember that. Switch to plan B.

“That’s what, Mama. I can’t concentrate. Probably because of this fever.”

“Hmmm... No temperature. Are you shamming?”

What an idiotic question.

“Would I do that?”

There goes her brow. Now why didn’t I inherit that?

“I can’t understand any of this nonsense, Mama. I’m sure I’m coming down with something. I don’t feel good. (Groans.) Besides Microbiology is pure nonsense.”

“Nonsense? Don’t talk about your studies that way.”

“But Micro is nonsense, Mama. It’s really tough.”

“I’ve heard it’s really interesting.”

“You listen to Manu too much.”

“A brilliant young doctor doesn’t throw away a lucrative career in surgery for one in Microbiology if he didn’t feel strongly about it.”

Yeah, whatever.

“Hey, why don’t I ask him to come over and teach me something? Maybe some of that enthusiasm will rub off on me. Now, why didn’t I think of that earlier?”

“I hope he gets something into that thick skull of yours.”

“I’m not thick skulled. I got into medical school.”

“But you’re having hard time staying in. Ring him up, then. Do you need a tablet for the ‘fever’?”

Man, is she sarcastic.

“Yeah. (Groans.) I’d like some hot coffee too. Sore throat. (Coughs.)

Acetaminophen never killed anybody. Or did it? Gulp!

* * *

“Hi, Manu. I have a test on bacteriology tomorrow. Can you come over and teach me something? I don’t know anything. Please?”

“Come on, don’t be so pessimistic. I’m sure you know the basics.”

Yeah, right.

“Please, coz. You’ve got to help me.”

“Sure. Be there in an hour.”

“Thanks a million. You’re a lifesaver.”

* * *

“Teach me something, coz. I really need to pass this one.”

“Did you flunk the previous one?”


“Errr... Barely scraped through.”

“Let’s see. Bacteriology, right? Hmmm… Ok. Let’s start with Salmonella. What do you know about Salmonella?”

“It’s a bacteria.”

“And I was thinking it's a virus. Thank you for enlightening me on that point. And bacterium is singular, wiseass. What disease does Salmonella cause?”

“Ooh, serious diseases. Pretty bad ones, you know, where you can even lose the patient. Severe disease. Salmonella is a bad bacteria. Bacterium. It causes horrible diseases. You know, a really severe-”


“Typhoid, yeah. I know that. I was just going to say typhoid. Now typhoid is a bad disease, you know. It’s a really serious disease. You-”

“Stop. Please. What organ does it primarily affect?”

Salmonella? Typhoid? It's a very bad disease, you know. Pretty serious. You can even lose the patient. Really bad when it affects the... The brain.”

“Your brain is definitely affected, assuming that you have one, of course.”

Sarcasm certainly runs in the family.

“ Shut up. Lungs, then. Respiratory infection. It causes a necrotising haemorrhage into the-.”

Oh, man. How can such anyone outside the Mafia look so murderous?

“Enteric fever. FYI, that means the GIT. I hope you know what the GIT is.”

“Gastro-intestinal tract. I’m not an idiot.”


He can do the single brow lift too?

“Very well. Salmonella causes typhoid, an enteric fever.”

“What is the diagnostic test for typhoid?”

“Err… A blood test?”

“Oh, my God! Have you heard of the Widal test?”

Why dal??? Sounds like a culinary disaster.

“Of course I have. I’m not an idiot.”


“Knock it off, coz. Tell me about the Widal test.”

“It's used to measure the level of certain antigens in the blood. Which ones?”

Whoa! Antigens? S for Salmonella, so there’s probably an S antigen. And he said antigens, so there’s more than one. T for typhoid.

“S antigen and T antigen.”

“Where did you get that from?”

This isn’t going well at all.

“The textbook.”

“Which one? The last I checked, it was H and O.”

“I knew that… I confused it with something else. H stands for ‘heavy’, right?”

The book hit her squarely on the head, and the last thing she remembered as she lost consciousness was the sound of frenzied swearing.

NOTE: The characters and incidents in the above account are blah blah blah blah blah. You know the rest. And no, this is not an autobiographical account.

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Good Morning?

Beastly way to begin a day, if you ask me, by getting up from bed. Now what real good does it do? You spend the first half of the day wishing you’d stayed in bed, and the remaining half waiting for bedtime. The longing intensifies after lunchtime, when you're gastronomically satisfied, and the lecturer is doing his best imitation of the sandman. You look around and marvel at those souls who can actually lift up a pen and take down notes, instead of using it as a lever to prevent yourself from flopping onto the desk.

So, getting up from bed. You’re in bed, sleeping, and having the best dream of your life, and just before the hero clasps you in his arms and proclaims ‘Muriel, I shall be devoted to thee until…..’, a shrill sound, quite unlike anything usually found in dreams of this kind, interrupts the proceedings. The hero looks around with a bewildered air, and the sound grows louder. Muriel tugs at his sleeve and urges him to complete what he was saying, when the sound grows even louder and Romeo disappears in a puff of smoke. And suddenly, you’re up. Just like that. Swearing vindictively, you spend the next few moments condemning the inventor of the alarm clock and his immediate family to a particularly oppressive hell in which there would only be this shrill beep sound with no apparent source.

After you find the cursed thing, you proceed to switch it off and try to get a few more moments of rest, to recuperate from the violent stress you’ve undergone. Romeo and Muriel decide to give it another try, when the villain arrives, in the shape of The Dad. Not Muriel’s, nor Romeo’s (they are currently taking part in a street protest against alarm clocks), it’s your own old man. Although there is nothing old about the hands that yank the sheets off you and the baritone that screams ‘GET UP!!!!!!!!’, you resort to giving him dirty looks while demurely murmuring ‘Alright, alright, I’m up, Dad, I was just recovering from one of the more terrifying nightmares’ in a tone of voice suggestive of wishing him a place in the afore-mentioned hell.

Having completed your ablutions, your prospects begin to look up after a cup of tea. There’s nothing like tea for perking you up. Everyday, after class, all the people who had barely enough energy to raise their hands to officially register their presence in class would rush off with undiminished enthusiasm for the tea stall next to the office, where you can get a cup (a glass, really; cups are hard to come by) of tea for next to nothing, while they mesmerize each other with tales of how they witnessed the ruthless excision of an ingrown toenail in the OT earlier that day and other such weighty matters. And after the tea, they would immediately rush to their respective homes, and catch up on lost sleep.

There isn't a more depressing breakfast than idli and sambhar to depress the hell out of you. The ability of the culinary misinvention in this department has been a subject of much debate among those employed in government offices, and although the majority rules against the statement, there is a small but strong minority in favour of it. The majority is not always right, as time has revealed time (pardon the pun) and again.

And people have the nerve to wish you a good morning. As if such a thing actually exists! In my personal experience, there had never been a good morning since the last one on 21st December, 1992, when I woke up to find that it was snowing. No, wait. That might have been a dream.

The best thing to be done is to ban alarm clocks, and throwing the inventor into a concentration camp* where they’d torture* him with ringing alarm clocks the moment he falls asleep, and allow him to subsist only on idli and sambhar. He would beg for mercy, but his tormentors, hardened veterans like Eichmann* (resurrected for this very purpose), would scornfully laugh at him, and sleep in a soundproofed room next to him, just to spite him. And we shall all laugh in glee, and go to bed at night more cheerfully, knowing there would be no alarm clocks to interrupt Romeo.

*I am not in any way, endorsing crimes against humanity.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

The Last Day

The day dawned bright and early. The sun was up, the birds were twittering, and the mighty prince unsheathed his sword and... Oops! Wrong place. Let’s begin again.

We were all packed and ready by about 10.30 and were borne to the railway station by our trusty steeds. We stood around our bags, looking like amateur dealers in second-hand luggage. We had an uninspiring breakfast from the railway canteen. I skipped that and had a Frooti (now available in a pet bottle). Puris dripping oil aren't exactly my favourite.

The train journey back home was as eventful as the one to Hyderabad. People kathifying [talking], sleeping, singing, staring out the window at the dismal landscape... Nothing new there. But the card playing epidemic broke out, and every other person seemed to have bits of paper in their ears. I played only Uno, I wasn't interested in the Queens and Hearts.

Since gambling is illegal, and no amount of swearing on dead grandmothers’ graves would convince hard-hearted railway inspectors that we weren’t staking our rings and chains, I was made to keep lookout. A fat guy with a moustache, carrying a briefcase, dressed in khaki, I was told, was the villain. I saw a khaki shirt near the door and warned my friends. They quickly hid their cards, and the uniformed official passed us carrying a broomstick and a bucket, completely oblivious to our innocent expressions. I attempted a quiet exit, but wasn’t very successful. Let us draw a curtain of charity over the unpleasant events that followed immediately after.

Lunch was sponsored by one of the teachers who had accompanied us on the trip. Hyderabad biryanis. Yum!

The train snaked its way through brown hills and desolate mountains, and it grew steadily hotter. The stifling heat didn’t affect the hardcore gamers, and they continued to play with undiminished enthusiasm. The Uno players rested.

An excellent dinner prepared with the greatest of love and care by the extremely competent cooks aboard the train’s pantry saw a few people lying around groaning. I turned veggie, so you can imagine how bad it was.

Before we knew it, it was time for bed. The card players needed to be convinced that it really was dark and there really existed a world outside spades and aces, such as food, drink and sleep.

We slept well, and bad, bad people who call themselves my friends woke me up some time before 7. What’s the point in getting up when there isn’t anything to eat?

The train entered good old Kerala (yay!) in the afternoon, although we were too tired to notice. Our number began going down when the train stopped at stations, replaced by people who hadn’t been on the tour getting on.

AJ’s dad brought lunch for all of us when the train stopped at her station. Her mom had made chapatti and chicken curry! I shall be eternally grateful to him for the first fresh home-cooked meal I had on the trip.

We were really tired by the time we reached home-sweet-home again. I was really glad to see mom standing there, I never realised how much I'd missed her until then. I said my goodbyes to my friends, who gave me strict instructions (orders, really) to show up for the Orthopaedics posting the next day, and telling my mom to make sure I did. That was the last straw. I decided then and there that I wasn’t attending the posting (I have this nasty rebellious streak that is unmasked when people try to order me about). I cut postings the next day, and attended the afternoon practicals session. As it turned out, none of those people turned up even for the practicals. So much for practising what they preach.

Friday, March 23, 2007

On the train to Hyderabad

Day 1. Happy now?

The stupid train had to leave before sun-up (or so it seemed to me, never having been awake before 7 in weeks, no, make that months). I sleepwalked to the station, and nearly had a close encounter of the third kind with a post, which woke me up sufficiently to argue with my dad about my sleep status.

Everyone had brought stuff to eat, and we commenced attack soon after take-off. I mean, soon after the train hooted merrily (aided by us) and left the station, right on time (some fluke, no doubt). The attack was fierce and lasted all of 5 minutes, and amidst occasional flashes and whirrs, no one managed to get in more than a few mouthfuls.

Stopping at stations meant that the parents of hostellers would show up with more food, and the next few minutes would be spent in total silence, occasionally interrupted by ‘ketchuppille?’ [no ketchup?] and ‘thanikkentha ketchuppillenkil irangille?’ [why, does your food stick going down if there's no ketchup?].

You couldn’t walk around the train without tripping over some classmate who was either
a) sleeping, or
b) kathifying [literally, knifing], or
c) playing cards, or
d) enjoying the view, or
e) listening to music, or
f) eating, or
g) performing some miscellaneous activity (meaning I can’t think of anything more).

The more gullible among us fell prey to palm readers and peddlers. The palm reader revealed that she hadd had a difficult life and would soon be taking a trip over water, while the rest of us entertained ourselves with etch-a-sketches and snakes and ladders.

The train entered Tamil Nadu by evening, and the view from the windows grew more depressing. The houses (huts, really) were placed so close together that would drive any claustrophobic into a panic attack.

At night, our noses were assaulted by the overwhelming odour of Eucalyptus. Looking around for the source (an escaped koala bear), we could only see a guy selling roses. Completely baffled, we assumed someone had a cold, when the rose guy came closer, and the smell grew stronger. He’d dipped the roses in Eucalyptus oil! Someone made the brilliant observation that he didn’t know roses could smell this bad.

The next insult to our olfactory epithelium was the smell of fermented carbohydrates. My friend sniffed the guys nearest to us, (unjustly) assuming them to have broken rules. It was actually a lady selling sapota (chikku). She got thrown out by a violent Naxalite aort of guy a few minutes later.

Some harebrained idiot (who I shall debrain as soon as I find out his identity) said there was some rule that the lights had to be switched off by 10. We ran around like headless chickens trying to get berths next to friends. Having accomplished this major task, the lights were switched off and we began. ‘I’m not the least bit sleepy, are you?’ ‘Of course not.’ We continued until someone from the lower berth threatened to throw a shoe at me. Spoilsport.

It got really cold at night, and when I woke up the next day, the bed sheet I’d been using as a pillow was wound around my feet. I have no memory of doing that. Everyone else was up before 7 (how on earth do they do that?) and they wouldn’t let me sleep any more. I languished in bed berth until I gained sufficient orientation in space and time to remember where I had put my toothbrush, and then hopped down.

We’d crossed over to Andhra Pradesh in the middle of the night, and the stops at the various stations were marked with announcements in a language that seemed to end every word in ‘lu’.

We saw lots of cotton fields. Those people should be worried about the boll weevil.

Chilli was also very common. If only our Geography classes at school had been conducted as an all India tour...

Just before we entered Hyderabad, we got a magnificent glimpse of the Hussain-Sagar lake, the largest man-made lake in… Somewhere. We tumbled out of the train at Hyderabad Central, and were whisked away to our hotel in a wannabe tourist bus. And you know what happened next.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

4th day – Birla Mandir, Golconda Fort, Charminar

Stop mooning about day 1. I’ll do it when I want to.

Most of the day was spent sightseeing. The first sight we went to see was the Birla Mandir, a (supposedly) beautiful temple dedicated to the goddess Lakshmi, if I’m not mistaken. Gold (yeah, aurum) and marble (mere calcium carbonate), apparently. I didn’t see anything remotely like gold, but the marble part is true. We didn’t see any structure that wasn’t made of marble. Prayer was the last thing on our minds. Who would feel like praying after climbing up millions of steps, then depositing our cell phones and cameras with someone who looked like he couldn't wait to pawn them, then clambering up another million steps, only to be met by a surly (and burly) security guard carrying an unfriendly rifle?

The sanctum sanctorum wasn’t as well-defined as it is in our mallu temples. We stood for an hour in the queue to get a peep at the deity, who was also made of marble. The view was amazing, although it was sadly lacking in greenery. Views (in my book) should feature lots of green stuff; beautiful buildings and huge artificial lakes are optional. At the end of the queue the priest touched a crown to our heads (silver, not gold), and we shuffled out.

The next problem was, we couldn’t find the exit. Asking the gun-wielding guard wasn’t a good idea (his expression wasn't very encouraging). I heard a very short lady dressed in a weird dress (a kameez, a dupatta and an ugly full skirt) ask him for directions to the exit, and our minds thanked her, while wondering about her odd attire. We began to follow her, and I couldn’t help remarking, ‘Ithu enthu vesham?’ [What sort of an outfit is that?] and other comments about her ridiculous fashion sense. (Bad habit, I know. People's weird clothes always arouse my scorn. Not that my clothes are perfect. But, you know. Yeah.) It was about 5 seconds later that she turned round and told her companions (who were walking behind us) ‘Itha purathekkulla vazhi’ [this is the way out] in fluent Thirontharam Malayalam.I think I passed out, because the next thing I remember is waiting on the roadside for our bus.

A few of the girls got mehendi designs on their palms, but it turned out to be some kinda foul-smelling ink. Now I consider the herbal smell of mehendi to be one of its star attractions, so, no. Some of the guys got ‘tattooed’ too. Next stop, Golconda Fort.

We bought water melon on the way to the fort. Mmm…

The fort is best admired at night, but that was obviously out of the question. It was built on a hill, from above downwards. The king who lived there had 360 wives (and 360 mothers-in-law, who he probably executed), according to the nasal tour guide (some relative of Himesh Reshammiya, no doubt, although he didn’t acknowledge the relationship). We climbed and climbed and climbed, accompanied by the weirdo, who gave us remarkably stupid info regarding the fort, the king, his wives, his army, his minister and life in general. I understood every single word he said, but put together it didn’t make any sense. He should have spoken in Hindi, instead of doing horrible things to English. *shudder*

The highest I climbed was only slightly below the topmost part of the fort. The wind was windy, and the heat was less hot. The view was totally awesome, but again, no green. Andhra Pradesh is one desolate place. If you're from AP, come to Kerala. You'll know what I mean when I say I missed the greenery.

The long climb down was made easier by my sandals losing a vital connection, thus maintaining constant direct contact between my right foot and the stone steps. The plantar surface of my toes had attained a beautiful erythematous appearance by the time I reached the bus. I also needed a crutch, but couldn't find one. Ow!

At the entrance of the fort, I saw a foreigner guy standing in the portico, apparently listening to his guide clapping his hands and moving towards the sound. Poor blind guy, I thought, noting his walking stick and dark glasses. Well, it turned out he was getting a taste of the acoustics there. I tried clapping in the middle of the courtyard, and could hear it resonate weirdly. That was an unexpected cool.

Charminar was a beautiful dancer with whom the king held secret liaisons with, in spite of having 360 wives (information courtesy afore-mentioned guide). Reliable sources say different. I’m having serious doubts regarding the accuracy of his other statements.

The climb up the Charminar’s minaret was markedly unpleasant. I’ve always hated narrow spiral staircases. And the view from the top of the tower was no consolation. It sucked. Plus John had found it necessary to proclaim to the world that he loves Michelle by inscribing it on the walls. John, and a lot of other irresponsible creeps who consider historical monuments to be their personal notice board.

The climb down was even worse. Fortunately, I didn’t trip over the broken strap (remember my broken shoe?) and die an ignominious death. The Charminar area has a very famous bangle market, and we decided to check the validity of the statement. It was more than true, and everyone ended up buying a lot of bangles, except for me. I was more concerned with finding a shoe store. I found one, and walked away a lot taller. :)

By then, we were starving, and decided to try the kebab place we had seen on our way to the Charminar. The kebab was excellent, and the prices were very reasonable. Yum!

Another round of shopping, this time in the city (same place whose delights we hadn’t fully discovered the previous day) and I missed a whole lot of bargains. No words can express my disappointment at that. :(

We skipped dinner, and saw Guru instead. We got back to the room around midnight, and began packing. I stuffed everything into my bag, giving it odd bulges in places. The I found that I had packed my toothbrush at the very bottom, and had to take everything out and do it all over again. I somehow got it done by one, and then, off to Never Never Land. I was too tired to do anything else. Going without dinner isn’t very energising.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Day 3 - Ramoji Film City

Day 3 at Ramoji film city. Day 1 can wait.

I bought a hat at the entrance for 65 bucks. You can see me wearing it in most snaps. Reminds me of Linux, by the way. Since I am not in love, having the sun in my eyes is not a very pleasurable sensation. Even if I were, how could having UV rays scorching my retina be pleasant?

Ramoji Film City was something of a disappointment. Probably because I was expecting something really classy, like Disneyland, perhaps. They have spent a lot of money on it, but obviously money can’t buy good judgement. (Like my friend's neighbour who built a huge house for an obscene amount of money, and then gave it a bright yellow and purple gate.)

The artwork could have used more skill. Maybe not Renoir, but the graffiti on our desks at college looked like museum pieces compared to the ‘art’ there.

I wonder how they managed to find so many klutzes. I saw at least 30 dancers, and together they had about 60 left feet. Astounding!

I also gained valuable insight into human nature (Miss Marple, take a bow!). I saw all these people standing in a huge queue. No one had any idea what the queue was for. Curiosity (the same thing that killed the cat) got the better of me, and I joined the line. When I reached the end of the queue, they bundled me into a ‘ride around the world’. This was about 10 minutes after we had entered, and I still had delusions of Disneyland, and thought, ‘Cool!’ Shock and horror, we were lead through a maze where they had dressed up puppets waving at us. My God!

We ended up in gift shop at the end of the ride. Greatly shaken, I almost bought some of that useless stuff. I’m not sure why they had a lot of stuff with pictures of Inca-esque masks and totem poles. Maybe Mr. Ramoji made all his money selling timber in Brazil and is grateful to the natives for using their witchcraft and voodoo to make him RICH. (Bad joke: Why didn't the sardar put any toilets in his new mansion? Because he wanted to be filthy rich.)

The Wild West town would have caused Clint Eastwood to go into fits. Ever played Outlaws? Lucas Arts FPS game. (It had great music, by the way). It reminded me of the game, and the game had faar better graphics. If I hadn’t hung up my Smith & Wesson and turned pacifist... Thank God they didn’t do a pirate ship theme. My timbers couldn’t have stood that much strain all in one day.

Then there was the 'Spirit of Ramoji' show. Awesome! We got to see almost all their (un)skilled dancers at work together. Our energy-driven vocal performance,(a tribute to werewolves at full moon) didn’t quench the (un)enthusiasm of the dancers, so that was the end of that.

The heavily advertised Western stunt show was next. Any paandi movie would have been proud to achieve the level of twists and turns the plotless ‘story’ took. The Chinese hero (wasn’t he wearing a red shirt? Chinese, without a doubt), evidently considered himself a descendant of Tarzan, and he rescued the (again, Chinese) damsel in distress with all the finesse of a drunken ape. The explosives used were highly reminiscent of colour bombs seen exploding in the background of those old Rajnikant songs. KA-BOOM! The cute little kid dancing in the row below us generated more interest than the actual show. But on the whole, it was better than the previous show which we couldn’t endure for more than 7 minutes and 33 seconds.

Later, we went on a few rides. There was one shaped like a pendulum, which turns 360 degrees,and you sit inside it. It didn’t look too scary from below, and the other thrilling stuff behind me had dulled my senses. It wasn’t so bad when it swung forward, but backward is another story. I have a vague memory of screaming for my mother when the thing stopped (as did my heart, brain and other such insignificant systems) upside-down and suspended me some 1000 feet (or so it seemed to me then) from terra firma. I didn’t pass out, thankfully (I’m made of stronger stuff than you, or I, think). Acrophobia is no laughing matter, peoples. I hadn't stopped shaking half an hour later. They had other rides, but somehow, I just didn’t have the energy. Just as well too, becaus a couple of people threw up after the ‘Dragon Twister’, or whatever it was called.

The guided tour of the ‘city’ was in a bus that reminded me of the red buses they show whenever London is mentioned. The guide spoke excellent English. ‘ Govinda chilla-ed Laila Laila phaading his kurta here. The summer camp scene of Kuch Kuch Hota Hai was shotted here.’ Dumb movie, that, come to think of it.

The gardens were beautifully maintained. I guess that’s the only thing I really liked about the place. So-so food at the various restaurants sprinkled all over to relieve visitors of their surplus cash. The remaining notes can be gotten rid of at the overpriced souvenir shops.

The (poor) replica of the Ajanta-Ellora caves was as bad as I expected. Got stuck next to another group of Malayalis. Just my luck. PCP (paapi chellunnidam paathalam) [Where the sinner goes, is hell].

We 'shotted' a lot of snaps standing alongside larger-than-life (that’s what cinema actually is about, isn’t it?) figures (again, poorly reproduced) of characters from Hollywood productions. (Angelina Jolie would probably shoot herself). Thank you for not doing Indy Jones. The cutouts where you can place your head were done with slightly more skill than the rest of the artwork. The stonework was good. Statues, fountains, wall carvings, were all skilfully rendered.

We just wanted to get out of there somehow at the end of the day. My feet were threatening to give notice. We were really tired. Even for shopping! Now that’s what I call exhausted. Being something of a compulsive shopper, in a smart move I’ll regret for a long time, I didn’t carry much cash on the trip, and missed all the bargains. Waaahhh!

Dinner was from a restaurant specializing in Hyderabad biryanis. Yum yum yum. The last thing I remember from the day is seeing a bed coming up to meet me.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Hyderabad trip - Day 2

My trip to Hyderabad. Day 1 was spent languishing in the train. And most of day 2 too. I’ll tell you about it later.

We arrived at Hyderabad, were taken to the hotel in a rusty bus, took a bath, went to Snow World. We had to leave our shoes in the bus, they weren’t permitted inside. Very few people took cameras and cell phones, so we don't have many pictures. The A left her camera at the hotel, mistakenly believing that it could not be operated at extremes of temperature. As a result, there are no pictures of us trying to freeze to death.

We waited in line for jackets (pullovers? windbreakers?) mittens and boots. We pulled them on somehow, and learnt a valuable lesson- one size does not fit all.

Once we got inside, we understood how useful useless the gear was. Was it C-O-L-D! I was uspet to find that I had no toes or fingers. The nose? That would be the blue, icy projection just south of the eyes. Some ill-meaning individuals threw snow at my face. I promptly lost my breath and started gasping. Everyone rallied round to blow (cold, natch) air in my face to 'help' me. I scared them all, but finally disappointed them by not dying of hypothermia.

Twin and I got separated from the others and decided to go sledding. They had this huge incline, and you take your sled and climb up the stairs holding it. They make you lie on it, and then push you off. I nearly chickened out just before push off (I’m scared of heights), but finally decided to go through with it. We ended up doing it again. And again. Wheeee...

I think that was when they announced it was going to snow. Total waste, if you ask me. Some bits of ice falling from the ceiling landing in a small circle, the diameter of which was (surprise) equal to that of the propellor they used. I was too busy dodging snowballs to notice.

They had an igloo, and feeling Eskimo-ish, I ventured inside it, only to find myself surrounded by our boys. I scrambled out immediately, but not before some wisecrack got to crack 'Oraalum koodi vannal namukku ivale Panchali aakkamayirunnu' [If one more guy comes in here, we ould have made her Panchali]. Gawd. I found Twin outside the igloo and we had a tearful reunion. Touching.

I wanted to climb the Everest (yeah, the real one, found BANG! in the middle of Andhra Pradesh), until I saw an encouraging sign next to it, 'Climb at your own risk'.

Some helpful individual threw a huge snowball right in my face, and I thought I died this time. I didn’t, and lived to have my revenge. Muhahahahaha.

I dared a friend to touch a metal post with his tongue, but he was way ahead of me on that one. He’d done it once before elsewhere. Oh, well. You can’t have everything.

An enterprising alavalathi [mallu for alavalathi] threw snow at my face, again. I wanted his blood, but the others dragged me off saying it was too cold to stay in any longer. By then, various parts of our body visible outside the gear had turned a delicate shade of blue.

We went out and took off the protective gear, only to find that our worst fears had been confirmed. We had no feet. No toes. No fingers. Thinking we'd thaw ourselves out with a hot coffee before they commenced amputation for frostbite, we moved to the coffee stand. Those Snow World people really knew their business. Outrageous price (10 rupees!) for a cup of ordinary coffee that we can get for 2 bucks at our college canteen! 1500 paise for a stupid cutlet. So I went with my usual 'coffee gives me gastritis, and these grapes are sour' line.

We went outside after rediscovering our extremities and found we had to pay 50 bucks for karting, and 30 for 'Living Dead' (You have to give them marks for originality). I thought I’d go into the horror house after my 4 laps. Beeg mistake. I had to wait in line for hours for my turn at the 'Kart Kave', and by the time I’d finished there, the Living Dead had died for the day night. The ones who tried it said it was really good. R told that people actually do scream shrilly when they're scared to death. The movies aren't exaggerating.

So, karting. A few friends and I felt adventurous. A and R didn't, and they decided to watch us make fools of ourselves. I hadn't driven in quite a while, so I was a bit worried about my steering. With good cause too. I came to an ignominious halt exactly 2 seconds after starting. My steering was always a bit off. Anyway, I completed one lap and as usual, leaned on the accelerator. Then I saw a right turn up ahead in the distance, and thought I’d slow down. Slammed on the brake and Wham! The whole contraption turned around. That was the only time I swore on the entire trip. Bloody thing had no gears. My ingenuity (yeah, modesty is one of my strong points) came to the rescue. I turned the whole thing round. Yay me! And for the first time in my life, I knew what ‘thundering applause’ meant. (Debilitating stage fright keeps me from the stage.) It was exhilarating.

There were some more rides there (things like a 30 foot free fall), but we had to leave by then. I wanted to try the free fall, because the adrenalin rush from the Kart Kave made me feel like I could take on the world single-handedly, and to hell with acrophobia . Well, I am glad I didn't, is all I can say, considering what happened at Ramoji Film City the next day.

We went back to the hotel. We had dinner from a seedy restaurant outside it, alambal [enjoyment?] in the room and went to bed after celebrating a classmate's birthday in the hall. Lucky guy had all his friends around at midnight. I was too sleepy to be jealous, though.