Heaven is a place I’ve lived before…

My son goes around posing as an authority on the happenings of our lives much before he was born.

“I know that, you don’t have to tell me.”

“You did this because of that.”

“I saw you doing that!”

…and so on.

On being told of the absurdity of it all, he tells us: Where do you think I was before I came here? I was in heaven with God. I could watch all of you whenever I wanted.

An example: Once when we were driving along Old Madras Road, a car trailer passed by. My son told my father-in-law, “Your car also came in such a trailer.” My father-in-law started laughing and parted with the crucial bit of information that the car he was sitting in was bought before he was born. So how did he know? My son folded his hands and gave a knowing glare.

“One day when I was playing in heaven, God called me and told me, “See that Hyundai trailer going down there? That’s carrying your grandfather’s silver-coloured Accent.” Touche!

I decided to end this game. So I caught hold of him once and asked him, “Describe this heaven of yours!”

“Ah it’s a primitive place in the heart of nature full of babies and gods….”

“Gods, I ask, “not God!”

“Well do you think even God can handle thousands of babies together?”

(Point)

“One god is assigned to 15 babies and…”

“Sound a bit like a school full of teachers to me,” I interrupted.

“No, the gods just watch over us, we spend all our time doing… nothing! We have a clear view of Earth and all the people who live there. We can watch every person when and how we want.”

“And what do you do there?”

“We don’t have to do anything at all and at the same time we can do everything we please. Every thing! Now doesn’t that sound like heaven?”

“OK, OK, then how do you come down to Earth?”

“Well we get to choose our parents. We look down and tell our god: Hey I want that woman to be my mother and that man to be my father and that’s how you two got together!”

(Kids always eventually get their way with their parents. But before birth too…???)

“So I don’t decide who I get to marry and the match isn’t even originally selected by god either. You matched us up?”

“Yes,” he replies smugly.

So there’s God’s Will. Then there’s Wife’s Will. And now there’s Son’s Will. I guess for a poor ole man like me, there really is no such thing as Free Will.

***

Another example: “Why are you so naughty and hyperactive, can’t you calm down and relax a bit.”

“I can’t,” he says…

(And I know another Heaven Story is coming)

“When god was throwing Naughtiness Dust on us…”

“What,” I ask, “is that?”

“Well the gods want us to be naughty. It’s a positive trait. We become naughty thanks to Naughtiness Dust which they keep throwing on us. Well, I went and raided the whole stock and that’s why I am the way I am.”

My wife looks shocked and asks, “What did god do when he found out?”

“He still doesn’t know,” sniggers my son.

My wife continues, “But won’t he get angry when he finds out?”

My son slaps his forehead and says wearily, “God is not like a teacher or a parent. He never gets angry at us. His job is only to guide, encourage and help us. He never gets angry. How many times do I have to tell you that?”

***

My son has a habit of shooting rapid fire questions in the night when me and my wife are about to fall asleep.

“What happens when you put a ton of ice in a pool of lava?”

“What if there’s a Black Hole outside our window right now? Can I check?”

“What if tomorrow doesn’t come when we get up tomorrow?”

“What if our whole life is actually a dream? What happens when we get up?”

“Can we go to Disneyland for our next vacation?”

“Can you buy me another Transformers action figure on your way back from work? I won’t ask for another toy for 10 years!”

They keep coming like an incessant waterfall.

Once he broached the topic of death.

“What happens after death? Where do we go? Why do some people go early? Why don’t you check the Internet for that? You check the Internet for everything anyway…”

I got really bugged and asked him, “OK, you’re the wise guy. You came from heaven. You once asked that god be requisitioned to start an email service between heaven and earth. You knew god. You tell me how we go back there after death.”

“But why would you want to go to heaven,” asks my son calmly.

“Don’t we all go to heaven when we die?” I ask exasperated.

“No!” he says firmly.

“Why?” I ask “sleepily.”

“You come from heaven to earth. So why would you want to go back to a place from where you came?”

(My reserve patience runs out at this stage)

OK, you tell me quick: What happens after death?

My son thinks for a second and says, “The soul splits into many pieces and every piece goes to a different world, a different universe and a different existence.”

That’s too deep for me. I can’t take it any more. I have to go to sleep.

Good Night!

© Sunil Rajguru

Overheard 1…

First official: Who’s next?
Second official: Some professor of Anna University in Chennai called Abdul on his way to New York.
First official: OK, check him thoroughly.

***

First voice: Main kal ek reality show pe ja raha hu, thoda kadki hain bhai!
Second voice: To ja na, aish kar.
First voice: Nahin yaar, programme main sach bolna padta hain. Ho sakta hain ki tumhare khilaaf kuch bol du.
Second voice: Jo bolna hain bol, itne saalo ke baad kya pharak padta hain? Waise bhi maine newspapers aur news channels wagere dekhna padna kab ka chod diya hain.
First voice: Cool

After a few days…
First voice: Yaar maine bola ki mujhe lagta tha ki tu meri aur madad kar sakta tha.
Second voice: Yaar maine poori koshish ki tumhe mere saath rakhne ki, shayad aur koshish karni thi.
First voice: Chal chod, kal pakka mil rahe hain na?
Second voice: Ha yaar, see you then.

After a few more days…
Sachin-Kambli friendship on the rocks!
Kambli blasts Sachin in reality show!!
Ye dosti… toot gayi!!!
How will Sachin react when he finally comes to know of the great betrayal???
………………………

***

Day 1
Guilty?
Nahin! No!
….
Day 12
Guilty?
Nahin!
….
Day 73
Guilty?
Nahin!
….
Day 143
Guilty?
Nahin!

Day 229
Guilty?
Nahin!
Day 230
Guilty?
Ha bhai hain! Main guilty hu! Kya karloge? Bahut ho gaya! Bas ye sawal band karo.

***

International concall
First head of state: Yes!
Second head of state: No!
First head of state: Yes!
Second head of state: No!
First head of state: Yes!
Second head of state: No!
First head of state: Yes!
Second head of state: No!
First head of state: Yes!
Second head of state: No!
First head of state: Yes!
Second head of state: No!
Senior official: Enough children! (Addressing the first) You’ll get your nuclear reactors (Addressing the second) You’ll get your millions.
First head of state: But I’m in a weak coalition government, anything could happen.
Senior official: I read the papers you know, I know you’ve a virtual 5-year-fixed term.
Second head of state: But I’m facing a coup.
Senior official: If you don’t comply, then we’ll organize one.
Interpreter: Kuch to Sharm karo
Senior official: Ah yes! Sharm el-Sheikh…
Interpreter: …is also called the The City of Peace Madam!
Senior official: Then it’s settled!
First head of state: Yes Madam!
Second head of state: Yes Madam!
Interpreter: Yes Madam!

***

© Sunil Rajguru

Why Kalam’s frisking concerns us all…

It could be you or me at a security check tomorrow. If this is how an ex-President is treated, what of us mere mortals? That’s how it concerns me apart from the fact that a fine human being was harassed. America might be arrogant and inconsiderate at many security checks, but at least they stand up for every American in every part of the world, unlike us, who couldn’t be bothered. Whether Kalam protested or not is irrelevant.

What if they tried it with ex-President Bill Clinton in India? His team would have probably pushed the officials aside and Bill would have stormed ahead. Get real. Is Kalam a suspected terrorist or smuggler? What a ludicrous idea!!! Then what were they checking for when they asked him to remove his shoes???

What is a check for? To prevent arms from going on board or to prevent smuggled goods going on a plane or to prevent a crime. Remember some years back Azim Premji was also subjected to a through check in the US. And he’s a billionaire and head of a top company.

I think the thorough check on Abdul Kalam is a slander on the entire nation…

6 Indian usages of English I can’t understand…

When my father was posted in Deolali Camp, an officer told me, “There’s the right way, there’s the wrong way… then there’s the Army way!” Likewise, when it comes to English usage, “There’s the British way, there’s the American way… then there’s the Indian way!”

Here are 6 usages of English that are unique to India…

Lifer for life sentence: A life sentence is shortened to life. A person serving a life sentence is called a lifer. It’s as simple as that. Once when I was on a night shift in the Hindustan Times newspaper, the PTI news agency copy was headlined “Man gets lifer” instead of “Man gets life”. When I pointed out the mistake to my shift head, I was curtly told, “Who knows more, you or PTI?” So the mistake went in the front page. Slowly all the papers started carrying it and today it’s an honourable Indianism.
Note: No army can withstand the strength of a mistake whose time has come

Kindly do the needful: What does that mean? How exactly “needful”? Needful for whom? What if: What is actually needed is that your request be ignored. (What if: What is exactly needed is that you need a kick in the pants for making such a stupid request in the first place?). “Needful supplies”, “needful money”, …are hardly used, you just “do” the needful in India.

Sunil “at the rate of” email.com: The @ symbol has two meanings. The first is “at the rate of”, which is used in accounting in the form of “10 apples @ Rs 10 = Rs 100”. The second is simply “at”. sunil@email.com means sunil “at” email.com. Yet, people still continue to use “at the rate of” in their email IDs. Think over it, you sound like a commodity with a price on your head.

Shoppee: In the olden days it was called shoppe, but pronounced as shop, so it understandably got shortened to shop. I think Indians think it was pronounced as shop-eeee, so shoppekeepers write it as Shoppee.

German Shepherd and Alsatian are different: A German Shepherd is a type of dog. During World War I, it was renamed Alsatian Wolf Dog in England due to anti-German sentiment. In time, “Wolf Dog” was dropped and the usage spread to the Commonwealth (of which we are a part). So they are basically synonyms (something like the British versus American usage). However in India, I’m told by dog owners, “No this is not a German Shepherd, but an Alsatian.” (Or the other way round) In various versions, one is supposed to be blacker than the other or larger than the other or…

Two into two is four: How many times does two go into two? Once, right? Then how in heaven’s name is “two into two four”?

Then there’s the good ole good name (got from shubh naam) and creations like airdash and prepone. In my school, to bunk a class was to “dishu” it, whatever that meant. “I dishued class today” “Why did you dishu?” Nobody knows how that originated. Even the teachers used it! Another teacher used to ask us to open the windows to let the climate in. The same guy called the physics department his residence. So I guess every school, college and neighbourhood in India must have dozens of such gems tucked away.

Which brings me to the “The Indian English Snowflake Rule”…

Just as no two snowflakes are alike, no two Indians have the same English.

© Sunil Rajguru

How to play the Indo-Pak endgame…

Players: India, Pakistan

Non-playing captain: America

Step 1: Pakistan militants attack civilian target in India.

Step 2: India points a finger at Pakistan.

Step 3: Pakistan absolutely denies the attack.

Step 4: America threatens Pakistan.

Step 5: Pakistan starts to make the right noises.

Step 6: India smiles.

Step 7: Pakistan backtracks. India frowns.

Step 8: America armtwists Pakistan.

Step 9: Pakistan accepts blame.

Step 10: India celebrates. America pats its own back.

Step 11: America gives millions and millions and millions of dollars of aid to Pakistan as a reward.

Step 12: PLEASE GO BACK to Step No. 1… Thank You!

Also known as “The Circle of Life” in the subcontinent.

© Sunil Rajguru

How to play cricket with a hockey stick and some old socks

Take a few old socks. Roll the first one into a ball. Take another and wrap it onto it carefully so that the shape is maintained. When it reaches the correct size, stitch the final socks neatly so that you are left with a very strong and sturdy ball…

But I am getting a bit ahead of myself. Why would you want to convert old socks into a ball anyway? Necessity, they say, is the mother of invention. There was no shortage of necessities and no shortage of inventions at Sainik School Satara, for the hundreds of boys away from home. One was the necessity to play cricket. Footballs, football grounds and football sessions were abundant. After football, basketball and hockey ruled. Swimming and horse riding were regular affairs too. The only problem was cricket. There were simply not enough balls, not enough bats and definitely not enough sessions in our packed hostel routine.

But we wanted to play cricket. So one genius had a brainwave. What was the one thing that every hosteller had? A hockey stick! What was there no shortage of? Old socks! And what could we find in every study room? Chairs. So the game of hockret (hockey+cricket) was invented (most people pronounced it as hockrate, but I think I’ll stick to hockret). (I think the game could also be called sockret. In that case, the inventor would be Sockretis)

The game is played thus: The back of a chair serves as a wicket. The freely available hockey stick replaces the rare cricket bat. And our good old hockret ball (as mentioned in the introduction to this article) replaces the cricket ball. All the other rules are more or less the same. Now there are many advantages of the hockret ball. What happens when it hits a window? Voila! It magically bounces off! What happens when it hits someone? It pains for maybe not more than 30 seconds. What happens when the ball gets lost? No need to buy a new one. You just pool in your stock of old socks and sit together and stitch up a new one. Luckily, enough of us could handle a needle and a thread to make sure that hockret balls were never in short supply. They were better, cheaper and safer than even tennis balls. So we could set up a game of hockret anywhere: On the road, in a small alley, in a ground or even on the boxing ring.

Hockret also came with its own set of innovations. One of them was to counter the contentious LBW rule. Nobody ever wanted to be an umpire and if anyone ever became one, he was just short of having his head knocked off by a dissenting hockeystickman. What were we to do? Even TV replays and Hawkeye together have eluded consensus among commentators, so what hope was there for us always fighting mere boys? Someone came out with the bright idea of the Rule of Three. “Let the ball hit the leg two times and all is forgiven. The third time it will be out.” It doesn’t matter if the ball would have hit the stumps or not. Three chances is all a batsman got. Not only was this proposal accepted, it was a roaring success. It also gave you the freedom to kick the ball out of harm’s way if the hockret ball was heading towards the stumps.

Hockret allowed you the freedom to chuck. That way, it was more like baseball, since the hockey stick is also pretty thin, like a baseball bat. It let someone like me, who was a failure at playing the “propah” game of cricket, a chance to finally get a few wickets and hit a few boundaries. I still can feel  the grip of a hockey stick and the pleasure of clobbering a soft ball.

Over time, we found that NCC stockings also led to tougher and heavier balls and the dynamics were also different. (Just like Kookaburra versus Dukes balls!) If the ball fell in water, it became all the more unpredictable. Not only was it heavier, it would hit really hard if it came on to you and splash water all around. So hockret’s only disadvantage was that we couldn’t play it when it rained. Mud made it totally unplayable and that’s something that couldn’t be simply wiped off like a leather ball. Football still ruled the monsoon season.

What really made things addictive, was indoor hockret. We had dormitories with 13 beds on each side, so they had pretty long corridors. People started playing in the dorms and that could be done at any time of the day and night (Of course one had to be evading authorities all the time). At times they lasted all day. I think one batsman even claimed to have made a thousand runs in a day! Brian Lara, eat your heart out. Some of us would even play this during our study holidays before the exams. I think it did lead to some of us getting fewer marks than we ought to have.

The hockret we played showed no resemblance to Test cricket or even the one-day variety. The bowler would try to get a wicket with every ball or at least stop the ball from being clobbered. The batsman would try to hit every ball for a 4 of a 6. In fact I think the current T20 is the game closest to our good ole hockret. That’s T20 cricket + baseball + hockey. No wonder it was so irresistible!

I wonder if they still play hockret at our old school or has it become extinct by now.

© Sunil Rajguru

Sainik School Satara Houses and Mess