How many Dogs do you see on your way to college? Or how many heaps of garbage do you see lying round?
If I had to go back to the very beginning, if I had the chance to do everything all over again there’s one thing I’m sure I’d change. I’d go back take a deep breath… and find a theme song for my life and play it every time I enter and exit a room.
If you’ve no idea what I’m talking about you need to go see this movie called Zone Pro Site which is Taiwanese for Catering Master. You’ll love it unless your an alien sent to spy on the human race.
Sure master Ghost Head is way to serious and mostly unintentionally funny. But if you’ve seen his entry you know he’s awesome. I can’t find that song anywhere, but If I do I’ve half a mind to make that my life’s theme song. It’s a tie between that, ride of the Valkyries and the godfather soundtrack. His funky pants, over serious demeanor, cool gangster get up, scary tattoos and that beautiful Vespa!He’s too serious for his own good, but hey everything in the movie is exaggerated and silly. His seriousness is silly when you think about it.
This might be a lame excuse for talking about more than just one character but if I was serious about such a fun movie it would be pretty unjust of me. Stooge A and Stooge B was hilarious. Stooge B says “Hey Hey Hey” throughout the movie ad it never gets annoying. Stooge A would be the cardboard bad guy in any other movie but here he’s just awesome even though he’s winy and a little evil.They pretty much get forced in the insanity and fit right in.They’re literately called Stooge A and B and yet they have so much character. Gangsters who’re afraid of eels, major in fine arts etc. How can you not love those guys?
The problem with this assignment is that very single character is awesome. Right after I wrote the bit about Stooge A and B I wanted to write about animals on call, then Puff, then Big fish… The list would cover everyone who turned up in the movie.
I could barely smell anything and had to blow my nose every ten seconds as we walked to the place. It wasn’t far from home. “just here”, “just here” Neil kept saying. Naffah was being grumpy, upset that we kept talking about his receding hairline.
It wasn’t out fault. What would you do if the old class jock turned in a eternally exhausted, almost bald 18 year old engineering student? Naffah has an odd face that never stops smiling, so you can never tell if he’s angry just by looking at him. The waiter gave him a weird look, as he grumbled. The place smelt bad and Naffah grumbled about Neil’s’ terrible taste. Thanks to his face, we weren’t sure if he was really upset. There were a lot of people around but we found a wobbly bench and wet steel topped table before anyone else did. It was probably a house before it was tuned into a restaurant. Naffah was convinced the walls were made from mud.
Neil kept shouting to people he knew or at least claimed to know. The military hotel which lacked any signboard or name was just called ”the military hotel”. It was a small place a little away from the local temple, which meant that a crowd was always around. Thankfully we didn’t have to look at our feet and pretend not to know Neil for long. The service was fast. Naffah was convinced that this was because they were giving us yesterdays’ food. I told him to find a toothpick and jab at his Ragi mudde to make sure there weren’t lizards in there. He smiled, but Neil insisted Naffah was annoyed.
We all ordered the same thing. My food tasted bland, maybe it was because I was sick. Neil told me to soak it in chutney, so I did. The experience improved considerably. Naffah smiled and asked me if I wanted a spoon to check for grasshoppers in the chutney. I decided grasshoppers were delicious and really should be used more often if that means food will be so cheap.
Neil started calling out to people again and Naffah tried to borrow through the table with his forehead. He got some bits of food on his head but I didn’t say a thing. He doesn’t like it when people remind him that he’s balding you see. Neil ordered another plate that took a lot longer than the first order. The place had gotten more crowded as the school nearby closed and mid day sun waned. We ate everything on Neil’s’ plate as revenge for his repeated public hollers.
Naffah got a call and left early to do engineering things and loose more hair. Neil called some of his friends over and wanted to order more food. I thought the food was kind of bland, or maybe my cold made everything bland, so I left before Neil realized I hadn’t paid for my food.
Long ago when I had not yet taught my self-righteous, nosy aunts that children are terrible little creatures they still liked to believe that they could get me to eat rice.
I had stopped eating rice all the way back when I was three but my aunts seemed to think there was nothing they couldn’t fix. This was a long time ago, back when everyone played snake and everyone thought color display on phones were silly luxuries. In these ancient days where decent screen locks were still a distant dream they should have known better than to plot on their phones. I was a nosy kid, and I decided that snake was a futile game because a bigger snake is not a happier snake. The only other thing I could do on people phone is read their private conversations. For a bunch of prudish, know it all they forwarded a lot a dirty or “spicy” SMS jokes to each other.
I don’t remember how the day started. I watched a little DBZ on T.V, played with my cousins till they were forced to go kicking and screaming to some religious seminar. I went back home and decided I would ride my bicycle inside the house. It was a huge, old bungalow with plenty of empty place inside its walls so it was easier than you imagine. I had read some text about trying to get me to eat rice one aunt had sent that morning. She was the one who subscribed to the spicy messages for her service provider- “Spice Mobile”. She was the only one who didn’t have snake on her phone [such an abomination!]. She still gave me her phone when I said I wanted to play games on it anyway.
I rode by the kitchen and had a gagging fit when I smelled the rice. It was potent and mixed with pickle. This made me think of people eating it, which made me want to throw up. There’s nothing I hate more than the sound of wet rice being moved around. “Why do you look so sick? Close your mouth a fly must have got in.” I turned around and there was my cousin licking rice of her fingers. I couldn’t understand how people stomached rice. I wondered why no one else felt as disgusted by it. I shuddered. My aunt with the spicy mobile came in and offered me rice on my favorite plate. I was only in third grade but I expected a little better. I cycled away, too fast for them to catch me. I grabbed a mango from a basket on the living room table later.
I wished some day there would be a channel that showed nothing but anime as I tried to scrape away the mangos skin. I just bit into it, realizing that I forgot where I left my bike. The mango tasted terrible. I looked down and realized to my horror that the mango had rice in it. I was horrified. Was there no limit to the lengths people would go to make me eat rice?I imagined have to live the rest of my life in fear. Worrying that underneath ever chapatti would be hidden grains of rice. Maybe I’d have to live on an IV drip forever.
I saw a piece of rice move and was relieved that it couldn’t possibly be rice. Then I realized what it was a hopped up and down spitting and rubbing my tongue. Why can’t those maggots go eat rice? They looked so similar anyway.
I took a nap to recover from the traumatic day or at least I think I did. I can never sleep during the day. Five minutes of sleep and I assume I’ve spent an entire night in deep slumber. One of those stupid shows about obese dragons was on cartoon network so I went downstairs completely disoriented. Downstairs another aunt was complaining about mangoes. Apparently they wanted to pretend they didn’t see me and say nice things about rice, hoping that this would get me to like it. Third graders get no respect.
I went up to her and was certain I was dreaming. They wouldn’t really expect me to fall for that in real life, would they? No one would have a show about purple dragons, would they? Since this was a dream I went up and flicked rice at my aunt’s face. I expected the rice to start moving like maggots since this was a dream. She gaped and I thought she wanted me to feed her. I hated how it felt on my hands. I went out and unchained my dogs who always howled all day long when they were tied up. I threw pebbles on a few people who I could see from our house on the hill. I wondered why my dream wasn’t ending.
When I got back home I realized it was never a dream. People had lined up to shout at me. Luckily my dogs where still loose and had pooped all over the front porch. So no one wanted to stay outside for long.
I spent the next few weeks paranoid about every mango, nap and smell of rice I came across.
- Failing to finish college
- Failing to do anything that’s worth talking about
- That my entire life is a lie like something in the Turman Show
- Not learning more than 7 languages
- Losing my memory
- Becoming orthodox/close minded
- Getting through life doing the bare minimum.
- Not being able to decide on a career path
- Having a career path that doesn’t let me read, write
- Losing touch with friends
- Friends start getting boring, and I grow asocial
- Going blind
- Being forced to follow my parents religion
- Being forced to borrow money from people
- Rice and Curd.
- Becoming addicted to something.
- Being unable to overcome my internet addiction.
- I’m afraid I’ll forget this is real life and go around committing acts of violence
- Losing my phone
- Eating a maggot filled mango
I can’t think of any dish I hated as a kid and came to like later. However I do remember I never liked tomatoes as a kid and I can’t get enough of them these days.
I don’t mean to say I like putting tomatoes on everything [well I do] what I mean is I like eating tomatoes by themselves. Tomatoes I have discovered taste really good even when they aren’t cut up and put on stuff. Just take a bite out of one and you’ll see. I once ate seven tomatoes in fourteen bites.
I still have friends who pick out tomatoes from what they’re eating. Lonely bread crusts and tomatoes are a common sight on used plates. It’s a tragedy really. Did you know there a thousands of tomato species that are going to go extinct because people don’t care about the sort of tomatoes they eat?
The first time I realized tomatoes taste amazing is when there were a bunch of stray tomatoes were in the fridge. They were tiny, a little bigger than a finger nail, I had no idea what they were so I ate it. I don’t know why but ever since I’ve fallen in love with tomatoes. I stopped putting them away, I actually looked forward to eating them. Sometimes I just ate tomatoes when I was too lazy to cook. Maybe they were magic tomatoes.
I don’t understand how those juicy little orbs ever managed to repel me. I remember how I used to cringe every time I came across them and put them away. Burgers, Pizzas etc were all ripped to shreds with knives and fingers in my attempts to get rid of them. Tomatoes never seemed to go with anything.
There’s a lot you can do with tomatoes that doesn’t need a lot of work. Just heat them up a little ,after you cut them in two, and they taste amazing. I wasn’t long ago when I discovered the wonders of tomatoes I can still recollect the cringes that tomatoes used to brings. I don’t know how to describe it. all I can do is head to the fridge and eat a couple more of them.
On the way home there’s a man who makes sugarcane juice which, I am always surprised to find, is the best I’ve ever tasted.
I walk everywhere. I can’t ride a scooter, I don’t like buses or autos and my bike was stolen 5 years ago. So I’ve no option but to walk. I’ve come to like it. I walk 10 km every day, the distance doesn’t matter anymore I only look at the amount of time it will take me to get where I want to go.
The earlier college ends the more inconvenient it gets. The heat and lack of trees along the footpath makes the road home a death sentence. Usually I try reading a book on my phone. If the chapter is good and the battery can sustain the brightness needed to read from a screen while the sun boils above you, I fail to notice the heat. Every day I realize I have forgotten to refill my water bottle. The water from the college purifiers might always taste funny, like they have someone’s medications dropped in them, but thirst makes me do crazy things.
Back when I was a kid my father would always stop at every little road side stall and buy something. He’d ask me if I wanted some juice. I’d always say “no need”. He’d buy two glasses anyway. I hated it. The fact that my father would insist on not having any sugar or anything other than pure juice in the glasses didn’t make it any more tolerable. Memories of me gagging, every time someone asked me if I wanted sugarcane juice, come back to me every time I drink sugar cane these days.
The man who sells sugarcane has his little setup next to the empty bus stop on Berlie Street which is always crowded on the way to college. He seems to follow some seasonal pattern, like those trees with purple flowers on the way home. I don’t know what the trees are called but they have this ability to stay unnoticed until they decide to, for a short period of time, shed their purple flowers and colour the road purple. I still haven’t figured out his annual pattern of disappearance though. I wonder where he goes for all those months. How does he manage to pay his bills if he keeps disappearing every other season?
I always hesitate when I see him. I don’t like giving away the ten rupee notes I have. I feel terrible about giving him a hundred, the guy always need change. We give each other a knowing nod. Sometimes I feel obliged to buy juice if he notices me. Sometimes he seems to resent the fact that he has to put away his paper and start crushing the cane. I’ve never heard him say a word, but he wears sly smiles on occasions.
He isn’t always by his stall. Occasionally he sits in the bus stop. You’d think he was a regular who had no business staying there for more than a few minutes. The loud tin box where he stores his crumpled, moist notes always remains neglected on his little stall. On other days he sits and skins the huge bundles of cane that he keeps against the trees that shades his stall. There can be no doubt about his popularity if he really manages to sell all that cane. On some cloudy days I see him sitting with the man who sells chaats on the other side of the bus stop. He never says a word to him either. He has never shown any interest in going back to his stall and selling cane on those days. He just stares, maybe telling me I don’t have to buy anything today.
Every time I drink the Sugarcane I’m surprised how cold it is, how relaxing it is, how it makes me realize that I’ve been walking all day only to make me forget a second later. No matter how many times I remind myself about how great it tastes, I’m always surprised by how it manages to blow me away. These baffling moments are when the Sugarcane guy puts on one of those sly smiles.
His little stall has green plastic pipes in it. The one you’d normally use to water plants. They look like they play some important role in his strange homemade contraption. You can’t really see them, until you realize he doesn’t have room for his legs behind his stall. Every time I try to see what they do, he makes a little hop to the side and hides the pipes. It’s a little suspicious, and road side stalls are shady enough. But the always surprisingly amazing taste makes up for any suspicious pipes and sly smiles.
His stall is green just like those pipes and looks like any other. Those pipes are the only things that stand out. Most people don’t even seem to notice the pipes. The juice serves as an excellent distraction and you find it hard to care about those little green pipes. I can’t help but wonder if there was some great genetic modification that made sugarcane taste better. Was it even sugarcane I used to drink back when I was young? I don’t know and realize that, like always, I have chugged everything down too fast for me to savour the taste. I don’t regret it though. I’ll just buy some more some other day.
His unending silence, the good taste that just doesn’t make sense till you drink it, the mysterious pipes and smiles, and his seasonal disappearance makes me wonder if he’s a genie.
I find childhood memories nice little landscapes to lose yourself in.
Nostalgia makes everything nicer, all I have to do I curl my toes and remember what it feels like to crush dry brown leaves under my bear feet. The sky is unable to escape an everlasting sunset of a red, red sun. It’s color leaks into the sky drawing orange lines that made me it almost impossible for me to ever pay attention to the slow, white, orange stained clouds. I wondered where they wanted to migrate to. I thought it must be a very nice place if you could shift shapes and float by slower than the moss growth on the compound walls.
Some times I would sit on a piece of the broken wall that looked over the road and close my eyes while the hum of traffic seeped through the wall I sat on and made my bones tingle. None of them of them could see us, the sole occupants of the hill. None of them took the road up the steep hill sides at the crossing at Nanthur. Most of Mangalores worst traffic jams happen by that circle that was just outside my view. I thought it was a strange contradiction. How easy it would have been for me to walk down the steep, poorly tarred road, at an angle so steep that I thought I was walking horizontally. I would have seen the the hill’s steep walls rise around me paying no attention to the tiny cut the road was on its mass, the weeds sticking out always threatening to brush against your face and the scampering black millipedes who were always so busy.
My concentration broke when somewhere some invisible man at some invisible mosque called out for evening prayers. I’d turn around and only see that church with the weird circles on it’s roof on another distant hill far away. Bangalore might as well have been another planet. There are no sunsets where you see the sun or hear invisible mosques and see strange church roofs.
If I have nothing else to do it’s easy for me to go back and remember walking by the trees during sunsets that never seemed to end. How did I always find the sunsets and the orange sky? I always seemed be out to witness them. It was like the monsoon never existed, like the TV or my cousins who lived at the far back of the hill on the only other house there never existed.
I walked barefoot on the sharp jagged stones. They were red like the sky. They never bothered me till I spent a few years away from them. When I was back I wondered how my soles survived those harsh stabs. A few hours later after a long day of painful hopping they stopped bothering. I looked across through the huge trees that guarded the house shadowing the road that ran past it, past the clear, high rise building free view, to the see and the red, very red sun and the orange sky. If it was very very clear day, you might be able to see the sea. Or at least I hoped you could. Someone told me that before electricity and petrol cars you could hear the sea from the hill.
I can’t go there anymore. I don’t want to go there anymore and won’t go there anymore even if they ask me to. It was never mine. It was home only for a while and that’s not my story to tell anyway. I never belonged to the house and they made that clear. I don’t want to go live in that old mansion on the hill again. But the sun, the sky,the hill, the trees, those dry leave under my feet? They were mine. They aren’t there now, they can’t be there now, they won’t be the same now. But I remember and I like to think that’s all I need.
When she had gone I realized I had begun eating the Pasta she had made for me.
My anger had subsided. I didn’t mind that she was gone. I wasn’t bitter either but her last set of growls didn’t let me miss her. It was green and smelt spicy. I would have bowed low to smell it, get a whiff of what lay in store for the future but my nose was blocked. It was green and some untraceable thread of memory I followed told it was spicy. I began to salivate as the green threads in the worn old bowl stared back at me.
I looked for cheese before I had a taste, it always went well with home made pasta. It made the tongue stabbing nature of the pasta a little more blunt. Like a mug of a cold water to a scalding bath in summer. Before I could open the fridge door I remembered I hadn’t felt sufficiently wealthy to go out and buy it that week. I opened it anyway. I liked out comforting the clean organized shelves looked. There wasn’t much in it and I closed closed the door once the cool air had chilled my feet.
It was as I imagined spicy. I would have liked cheese, but I didn’t need it. When I put away the bowl I realized I didn’t remember what I was doing while I ate. I pushed my tongue back to the roof of my mouth and remembered that yes it was quite good. The yellow pasta and green sauce didn’t look extraordinary. But I remembered the taste even when I stopped listening to the lingering echos with my tongue.
It tasted yellow and green I said to myself later. I don’t know why but that sounds like a great description. I drank some Kashai later that I didn’t realize was made from milk powder and not milk. I remembered how the big milk powder companies had told mothers in the third world that milk powder was better than milk and caused malnutrition for million. They apologized but were never punished I recalled as I distractedly tried to reach a mound of undissolved milk powder at the bottom of the glass. I didn’t recognize the difference between normal Kashai and this one but I wish I had a more natural successor to the last taste that I had known. Something more yellow and green.
I’m surprised at how little her absence or presence affected me. I mean we never really did much together when she was around but I still felt the absence should have been noticeable.
She had her own problems and didn’t think I had any business knowing about it. It was only natural. I didn’t really care all that much about it either. So now she was back wondering if she was the tyrant she feared she was. I was very inclined to say no. She cut a sympathetic figure. She had a lot to deal with.
She wasn’t like the rest of the family. That was until she started yelling about the missing utensils and insisting I stay I the kitchen. she liked about having told me to get in their 5 times. I wanted finish writing this dam post. Maybe 5 times was just an expression but every time she said that I wished I could kill her. It was a cheese grater against my brain. I shouldn’t have gotten so angry but I did.
She left to meet a friend. There was no trace of her existence that I could find. I realized that her presence and absence never really made much difference. I worried about money a bit more. I was allowed to get more sloppy. I didn’t mind having her around. But I felt sure that we’d never be able to stand each other for more than a few hours everyday. It’s in our blood I suppose.